It looks more and more like Michigan’s spunky ballast law is here to stay. Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the shipping group’s challenge to the 2005 law that requires Salties to obtain a permit to use the state’s ports.
The permit ensures that ships will not release ballast into the port or that it will clean the water with approved technology before ejecting it. We now know the damaging cost of invasive species to the region due to an enterprising and frustrated Notre Dame graduate student who has used his doctorate to put a price tag on invasive species. John Rothlisberger started out trying to find the total cost of the invasive species brought into the lakes via ocean-going ships and his quest took him on an amazing journey that he details in a recent article posted on Live Science.
“Ship-borne invasive species were responsible for more than $200 million in losses to benefits from ecosystem services in 2006,” according to Rothlisberger. He only took the United States side of the losses into consideration.
With such a high price tag, who can blame Michigan for acting alone in the absence of federal leadership on this issue? We came seriously close to a good ballast standard this year, but Congress failed to make it law. Let’s hope that our President-Elect makes this issue a priority when he takes office this winter. In this cash strapped economy, we can’t afford to wait any longer to deal with invasive species.