Congress dumps ballast water provision

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The Senate and House of Representatives have rejected a provision that would have weakened an important anti-invasive species regulation in New York state.

Representative Louise Slaughter, who co-chairs the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, announced today that the Senate and House each passed a Coast Guard re-authorization bill. But the bill did not include language requiring a national ballast water discharge standard for ocean-going ships. (Earlier this year, the Coast Guard finalized a different ballast water regulation that allows states to set their own standards, Slaughter said in a press release.)

In 2011, Congress took up a Coast Guard re-authorization bill that included a provision requiring a national ballast water standard. It would have mirrored the International Maritime Organization's guidelines and would have prohibited states from implementing stricter standards. New York, however, had already approved much stricter ballast water standards for ocean-going ships entering its waters.

State officials wanted to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem from new invasive species. Ocean-going ships enter the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway and Lake Ontario, and many invasive species have been introduced to the lake through ballast discharges.

State officials have pushed the Environmental Protection Agency to implement a national standard that mirrors New York's regulations.

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