Tomorrow the St. Lawrence Seaway will open up for the new season and with it a dangerous threat – Russian born terrorists are poised to take advantage of the event to attack the United States under the watch of President Bush. Where is homeland security when you need it?
The terrorists in question are, of course, aquatic invasive species. The opening of the seaway marks the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the non-native mussel.
The pint-sized terrorists that hale from the Caspian Sea and stow away in the stabilizing ballast water of transatlantic ships first invaded our freshwater shores in the 1988. Since then they have been sending waves of reinforcements every year spreading throughout the Great Lakes and into the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers then to lakes and tributaries in Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Everywhere it goes, the zebra mussel devastates the native biodiversity, fouls boat engines, water intakes, dams and power plants. In the most recent attacks, it has employed a biological weapon upon our bird population killing off acres of fowl with a paralyzing botulism.
Ohio Sen. George Voinovich (R) has denounced the invasive species as a “terrorist from abroad” and describes the epic fight to end their scourge as the “second battle of Lake Erie.”
Since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened almost fifty years ago, ballast water discharge from ocean-going vessels is the No. 1 way in which aquatic invasive species enter the Great Lakes. To date, 185 invasive species have made a home in the Great Lakes costing us $5 billion a year. The zebra mussel alone costs regional industry $150 million a year – they have even been blamed for shutting down the Detroit Edison Plant. They came quietly, under the cover of darkness and they multiplied to biblical proportions. But this is one terrorist that John McCain won’t have to follow to the gates of Hell – we know where it is and how it travels – we just need to stop it once and for all.
Federal legislation is pending that would create a national treatment standard for ballast water. Michigan, tired of waiting and paying big annual bills to deal with problems caused by invasive species, passed its own ballast law that went into effect last year. Wisconsin has recently taken steps to become the second Great Lakes state to regulate ballast water, and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland supports a similar move. Absent Congressional leadership the states intend to create a rogue ballast regulation system – the only barrier to hold off the zebra mussel’s reinforcements.
Congress should move to pass strong legislation, and do it quickly – the St. Lawrence is opening up again allowing yet another attack upon our water’s sovereignty. This is a black and white issue – as black and white as totalitarianism versus freedom, communist versus democrat – the zebra mussel and its allies (invasive species) are evil and must be stopped. It is time to don our white hats and be the good guys and save our nation’s most precious resource from a real enemy combatant.