Michigan’s Ballast Law Passes another Test

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.

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One Response to Michigan’s Ballast Law Passes another Test

  1. Donald Mitchel says:

    Until the public becomes aware of the enormous threat, that ballast systems provide for terrorist,or foreign sea captains, who do not like our country, to use ships flying under foreign flags with foreign crewmen, to contaminate and pollute our waters the federal government will not act on this problem. Unfortunately until we demand protection by exposing this threat, lobbyist will push the senate to continue to consider it a states rights issue, which, for industry will create a myriad of conflicting regulation that are impossible to enforce. This approach has served industry well for decades. Unfortunately virus and invasive s in water do not recognize the lines man has drawn on maps. Anyone who has worked in industry knows that log books and record keeping, are mere paper work that dose not prove procedures are followed. Without the Coast Guard willing to take this on as a national security issue, with monitoring and, one national policy, the lobbyist for industry know the cost to follow procedures correctly will in reality, never have to be incurred. The mentality that international sea captains can be trusted is reflective of the 1800’s not of the reality of 2001. In the airline industry terrorist are called hijackers. We need to realize in the shipping industry they can be pirates. It is time for those who care, to tell are law makers to do the right thing for the national security of our country as a whole. Sincerely
    Don Mitchel