Contact: Tim Eder, executive director, Great Lakes Commission
734-474-1032, or firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Congress urged to make ballast water rules #1 Great Lakes priority
INDIANAPOLIS – The Great Lakes states, acting through the Great Lakes Commission, today took action to urge the region’s congressional delegation to make effective ballast water legislation its top Great Lakes priority for 2007.
The states are calling for legislation to reduce and ultimately eliminate the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) from ballast water.
“The time for Congress to act on legislation to protect the Great Lakes is now,” said Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, chair of the Great Lakes Commission, at whose 2007 Semiannual Meeting the resolution was adopted today. “Many businesses in our states, including boating, tourism and fishing depend on the health of our Great Lakes, which is threatened by discharges of biological pollution from ballast water.”
Ballast water discharges from oceangoing vessels in the Great Lakes are believed to be the source of some of the most problematic invasive species in the Great Lakes, including the zebra mussel, round goby, spiny waterflea and, most recently, the viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) virus responsible for a number of large fish kills around the Great Lakes.
A lack of federal standards has motivated the states of Michigan and California to enact their own ballast water regulations in recent years; Wisconsin and other states are considering similar measures. The Great Lakes Commission is asking for federal ballast water treatment regulations that would be applied uniformly across the region.
The legislation called for by the Commission should have the ultimate goal of zero discharge of viable organisms and have a requirement to meet an environmentally protective standard within five years of enactment. The Commission is also calling for an immediate requirement that ships exempted from current regulations due to no ballast on board status be required to treat residual ballast water by the most effective means available.
Both the Commission and the Council of Great Lakes Governors have repeatedly urged Congress to adopt legislation to shut the door on all sources of invasive species in recent years.
“We’re pleased that Congress is beginning to develop legislation to address ballast water discharges - the most important pathway for invasive species entering the lakes,” said Tim Eder, Executive Director of the Commission. “The resolution represents the unified voice of the Great Lakes states, Ontario and Quebec and our recommendations for what that legislation should contain.”
The Great Lakes Commission also urges that the United States work with the Canadian government and its agencies to address the problem of AIS in the Great Lakes. The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec have associate member status on the Commission.
The Great Lakes Commission has a long history of working to address the AIS problem, including its role of providing secretariat services for the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species. More recently, it convened a special advisory panel of state officials, maritime industry representatives and environmental interests in an effort to build a regional consensus on a viable regulatory approach to ballast water management and advance such legislation in Congress.
More than 180 AIS have been introduced into the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River system since the beginning of European settlement in North America. Remediation of the problems they cause is an ongoing and expensive burden on the region, with significant costs to the regional economy, including the power generation, water supply, sport and commercial fishery, and tourism sectors.
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great LakesSt. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Great Lakes Commission
The Hon. John D. Cherry, Jr., Chair; Tim A. Eder, Executive Director
Eisenhower Corporate Park • 2805 S. Industrial Hwy. Suite 100 • Ann Arbor, Michigan • 48104-6791
734-971-9135 • Fax: 734-971-9150 • Web: www.glc.org
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