First Michigan decided not to wait for the US Congress to set a national standard for ballast water and now Minnesota is considering similar statewide legislation to protect Lake Superior. The US Congress and the shippers ought to have seen this coming and they might as well accept the fact that ballast legislation is going to come to the Great Lakes.
The question is will Great Lakes ballast standards become piece meal as each state determines its own standard and permitting requirements – which will be a real hassle for shippers, or will there be one sweeping national standard that applies to everyone and is enforced across the nation?
The US House approved a national ballast law early this year, but it is currently stuck in the US Senate. If it isn’t taken up in the coming days then it will languish again until next summer. Meanwhile, the Great Lakes are becoming more and more infested with these cancerous species and the region is paying out-of-pocket to attempt to mitigate the damage. How long must we wait for action?
The US Senate has a historic opportunity right now to set a strong national standard for the management of our fresh waters. One unified program would also help the shipping industry and commerce. Let’s not let the ballast bill get lost in the fog of the national election cycle because our precious fresh water’s don’t have another year to wait.