Action Alert! Tell the Coast Guard to Implement Strict Ballast Clean-Up Rules!
Comment deadline Friday, December 4
After years of inaction, the U.S. Coast Guard is poised to fix one of the most troublesome problems facing the St. Lawrence River’s fish and wildlife: aquatic invasive species. Citizen groups and individuals are invited to submit comments on this important process until Friday, December 4.
Aquatic invasive species, such as zebra mussels and round gobies, are one of the most significant threats to the St. Lawrence River environment. More than 65% of the aquatic invasive species found in the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes have been brought in via ballast tanks of ships transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway. These invaders threaten the River ecosystem, our regional economy and our way of life. Once here, they cannot be eradicated. The only option for protecting the St. Lawrence River from further invasive species damage is to end new introductions.
Earlier this fall, the United States Coast Guard proposed a new rule that would that would require ships transiting any waters of the United States, including the St. Lawrence Seaway, to clean-up their ballast tanks. This rule could be a groundbreaking regulation and could be the strongest effort yet in the fight to stop aquatic invasive species introductions!
But the proposed rule allows polluters too much time to fix the problem. Ships could avoid compliance for another ten years unless timelines are shortened. We need to tell the Coast Guard in no uncertain terms that it needs to stop introductions of aquatic invasive species into the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes – now!
A few facts about the rule:
- The final standard for ballast water discharges is excellent, and as good as the strongest state standard on the books, such as New York and California.
- The timeline for implementing the final standard is weak. Ships could avoid complying until after 2020.
- The rules apply to ‘lakers’, vessels that operate exclusively in the Great Lakes. Although Lakers do not introduce new species, they do contribute to the problem by spreading species within the region.
- There is a clause included in the rule, (called the “feasibility review” of technology) that could endlessly delay implementation of the final standard.
It’s critical for the administration to get this right the first time so there are no further delays to getting technology installed on board ships.
The U.S. Coast Guard will be facing opposition from industry about this proposed rule, and therefore it’s essential that they hear from citizens who want the River protected!
Write the U.S. Coast Guard to let them know that you support the proposed discharge standard but that the timeline should be shortened.
Points to include in your letter:
- Support the proposed final standard that is equivalent to the most stringent state standards, currently 1000 times greater than the International Maritime Organization standard.
- Support the application of the rules to Lakers.
- Urge a shorter timeline, including adoption of the first phase of clean-up technologies no later than 2012 with a final deadline for the strictest standards no later than 2016.
- Urge a firm deadline for ‘feasiblity reviews’, endless delay is not acceptable.
- And, let the U.S. Coast Guard know how aquatic invasive species have impacted you and why you feel that strong standards should be in place as quickly as possible.
How to Submit Comments:
Submit comments online by Friday, December 4th.
For More Information
For more information about the impact of aquatic invasive species on the River, visit Save The River’s Clean Up the Ballast Campaign page.
And, the U.S. Coast Guard has plenty of information about the proposed rule including:
Thank you for taking action to protect the St. Lawrence River!