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  • ITVI.USA
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  • OTLT.USA
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  • OTRI.USA
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  • OTVI.USA
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
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American Shipper

Groups seek to end ballast water regulation “patchwork”

Groups seek to end ballast water regulation “patchwork”

Groups seek to end ballast water regulation “patchwork”

Four trade associations that represent marine carriers are asking Congress to help create consistent rules for treating ballast water discharges to prevent the spread of invasive species such as the zebra mussel and sea lamprey.

   In a letter to Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the trade groups express support for a single, federal standard to govern ballast water discharges.

   The four groups — the American Waterways Operators, Chamber of Shipping of America, INTERTANKO, and World Shipping Council — said they can support provisions in draft bills before the two committees with minor changes, but said those bills don’t get to the nub of the issue by failing “to establish a clear or consistent regulatory framework.”

      The groups want to “prevent a patchwork of overlapping and conflicting federal and state programs affecting ballast water discharges.”

   They are concerned about the use of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by states to regulate ballast water discharge, saying it was created to control “fixed-point source discharges,” and using it to regulate ballast water discharge is inappropriate and contributes to that patchwork of regulations.

   “That CWA structure means whatever might be said in ballast water legislation about how the states participate in any new regulatory program, they will retain primary standard-setting and enforcement authority under the CWA unless the legislation expressly states that the CWA does not apply.”

   The trade associations said, “There have been efforts over the past couple of years to try to ‘finesse’ this issue by being silent about the CWA, while at the same time providing for some level of conflict preemption under the proposed discussion draft.”

   But a decision in July by the Ninth Circuit stating that the Clean Water Act applies to ballast water means “the courts at this point will recognize preemption of the CWA only if it is expressly stated.”

   The carriers contend the Clean Water Act “is an unsuitable regulatory structure to use to regulate ballast water and other operational discharges from mobile vessels engaged in interstate and international commerce,” noting that a vessel may at one point be operating on the East Coast, another time in the West Coast, sometimes engaged in coastal trade, sometimes traveling to overseas ports.

   “Just as the CWA today allows only one state to regulate a point source discharge, even though that discharge affects multiple states, so too must there be a single set of consistent regulations for vessels that may visit many states,” the groups said.

   The four associations note that systems to treat ballast water are expensive and require considerable lead-time to install.

   “It is therefore totally impractical to develop a regime that empowers states to develop different standards for these vessels,” they said.

   “A sound bill must create a national program that addresses the CWA problem and preempts state and local authorities’ abilities to establish different regimes. This is not an ideological debate. It is a question of simple engineering and operational reality.” ' Chris Dupin

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