Senators Attempting to "Water Down" Aquatic Invasive Species Protections Again

Senators Attempting to "Water Down" Aquatic Invasive Species Protections Again

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Milwaukee Riverkeeper and 29 other Waterkeeper organizations signed onto a letter to U.S. Senators in opposition to the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (S 373). This Act was recycled from last year, and if adopted would eliminate the long-standing ability of States to protect our waters from shipping-mediated pollution, the introduction and spread of non-native species, and their associated deleterious economic, human health, and ecological impacts. In particular, States like Wisconsin, which have put in their own ballast water inspection programs to protect our local waters and mitigate billions of dollars in damage from invasive species, would be penalized by this legislation.

S 373 prohibits states from adopting or enforcing all new, and likely most existing, state laws or programs to control ship discharges despite significant differences geographically (between Alaska and Milwaukee, for example). Ballast water discharge from ships is widely recognized as one of the primary sources for the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species, and yet this bill would take us backward and remove regulation of ballast water from Clean Water Act. The bill would also take away EPA’s authority to regulate ballast water away and give it to the Coast Guard, which does not have the expertise or resources to regulate this source of pollution. The bill would impose a weak standard that ensures that ballast water standards will never get stronger despite improvements in available technology, and would eliminate water quality based standards, monitoring, and reporting requirements.

The new law represents a dramatic departure from the protections currently in place and is weaker than the standards imposed on every other industry. Please urge your Senator (and Representatives) to vote against S 373 and other companion bills that put our waters at risk from aquatic invasive species and force taxpayers to continue to pay the economic burden associated with invasive species instead of shifting it to the industry responsible for bringing those species to our nation’s waters.

Read our comments below:

Our mission is to protect, improve and advocate for water quality, riparian wildlife habitat, and sound land management in the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic River Watersheds. We envision a future in which people from all walks of life can enjoy the healthy waterways of the Milwaukee River Basin. Milwaukee Riverkeeper is a licensed member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international coalition ensuring clean water and strong communities. We are working to achieve swimmable, fishable rivers for future generations throughout the Milwaukee Rive Basin.