Coalition Applauds U.S. House for Passing Strong Invasive Species Bill

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (April 24, 2008)—The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today applauded Congress for passing a bill to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters.

“We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a strong invasive species bill that protects our lakes, our national parks, our economy, our public health and our way of life,” said Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We urge the Senate to pass its bill and President Bush to sign into law these strong protections from invasive species, because the longer we wait, the problem will only get worse and more costly.”

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 2830) by a vote of 395 to 7.

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) followed through on a commitment he made when he became chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to pass strong ballast water legislation. Reps. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), Ron Kind (D-Wisc.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) were instrumental in adding key amendments to the bill.

All eyes are now on the U.S. Senate to pass the Coast Guard Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (S.1892). The two bills must then be reconciled in conference before heading to President Bush’s desk to be signed into law.

“We need the Senate and President to complete what the House started and finally shut the door on invasive species introduced through ballast water discharge,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office. “If this effort sinks, all of our nation’s great waters will suffer devastating and irreversible damage.”

The Coast Guard bill contains provisions to stop the introduction of invasive species via ballast water discharge. The bill:

• Establishes for the first time strong ballast water treatment standards;
• Requires ballast water treatment technology on board commercial vessels in 2009 using an interim standard;
• Establishes an aggressive time line for new, stronger U.S. treatment standard starting in 2012; and
• Sets a national goal that ballast water discharged into U.S. waters contains no living organisms by 2015.

“This bill contains the strong, national protections that people, businesses and cities have been seeking for years,” said Cameron Davis, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes and co-chair of the Coalition. “It’s time that Congress and the President seal the deal, sign this bill into law, and provide the millions of people who rely on the Great Lakes and our nation’s other great waters with the security of knowing that we have finally slammed the door on invasive species introduced by ballast water.”

The 185 invasive species in the Great Lakes cost citizens, businesses and cities hundreds of millions of dollars per year. A new invasive species is discovered, on average, every 28 weeks.

The No. 1 pathway for invasive species like the zebra mussel to enter the Great Lakes is through ballast water discharge from ocean-going vessels. Such ships have introduced more than 70 percent of the non-native invaders since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959.

For more information:

For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2008

Andy Buchsbaum, National Wildlife Federation, (734) 717-3665,
Jordan Lubetkin, National Wildlife Federation, (734) 887-7109,
Tracey McIntyre, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 454-3311,
Joel Brammeier, Alliance for the Great Lakes, (773) 590-6494,

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