Be­ware: In­va­sive Species and Cor­rupt Politi­cians

Trillions - - In This Issue -

In­va­sive species are a bad thing.

Non-na­tive species from ship's bal­last wa­ter can in­flict wide­spread and ex­pen­sive dam­age to ecosys­tems. In the United States alone, in­va­sive species cost an es­ti­mated $120 bil­lion an­nu­ally in control meth­ods and loss of en­vi­ron­men­tal re­sources.

This is why it is im­por­tant to keep the aliens out of the coun­try and why the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) was given the au­thor­ity to keep some of them out through en­force­ment of the Clean Wa­ter Act.

As part of Trump's war on the EPA and the Clean Wa­ter Act, the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Com­merce, Sci­ence, and Trans­porta­tion re­cently adopted an amend­ment to the Coast Guard Au­tho­riza­tion Act that would ef­fec­tively elim­i­nate the EPA'S au­thor­ity to reg­u­late dis­charges from ocean ves­sels, which of­ten con­tain aquatic or­gan­isms from other parts of the world in bal­last wa­ter.

The amend­ment in­cludes bill S.373 - Vessel In­ci­den­tal Dis­charge Act. This bill re­quires the Coast Guard to "estab­lish and im­ple­ment en­force­able uni­form na- tional stan­dards and re­quire­ments for the reg­u­la­tion of dis­charges in­ci­den­tal to the nor­mal op­er­a­tion of a vessel into nav­i­ga­ble wa­ters. Those stan­dards and re­quire­ments must... su­per­sede any per­mit­ting re­quire­ment or pro­hi­bi­tion on dis­charges in­ci­den­tal to the nor­mal op­er­a­tion of a vessel un­der any other pro­vi­sion of law."

The bill ef­fec­tively re­moves the EPA and Clean Wa­ter Act from the reg­u­la­tion of ship dis­charges and trans­fers all au­thor­ity to reg­u­late ship dis­charges to the Coast Guard but in­cludes no mean­ing­ful re­quire­ment that the Coast Guard set stricter lim­its on dis­charges into fresh or saltwater bod­ies.

The Coast Guard is not an en­vi­ron­men­tal agency. It does not em­ploy en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists and is not the best agency to draft or en­force en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

Due to lax reg­u­la­tion, alien aquatic species have al­ready rav­aged San Fran­cisco Bay, the Great Lakes and other rivers and es­tu­ar­ies. More en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion is needed, not less.

This bill will make the prob­lem much, much worse,” said Brett Hartl, gov­ern­ment af­fairs di­rec­tor at the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Diver­sity. “This is a gift to in­dus­try and an in­sult to tax­pay­ers, who al­ready help sup­port bil­lions of dol­lars in restora­tion ef­forts just to keep cur­rent in­va­sions from bal­last wa­ter from get­ting worse.”

In 2008 the 9th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals held that the EPA must reg­u­late and ad­dress the spread of in­va­sive species from bal­last wa­ter un­der the Clean Wa­ter Act. In 2015 the 2nd Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals agreed with the 9th Cir­cuit and held that the EPA needed to do even more un­der the Clean Wa­ter Act to re­quire the most ef­fec­tive technology that has been demon­strated to be clean and re­move aquatic or­gan­isms from ship­ping ves­sels’ bal­last wa­ter.

In­va­sive species like the ze­bra mus­sel in the Great Lakes cause $9 bil­lion an­nu­ally in dam­ages to U.S. in­fra­struc­ture and help drive the de­cline of na­tive en­dan­gered species. Ap­prox­i­mately 52 mil­lion gal­lons of bal­last wa­ter gets dumped into U.S. wa­ters each year, and 55 per­cent to 70 per­cent of 180 known in­va­sions of the Great Lakes were caused by bal­last wa­ter.

While Don­ald Trump is able to per­ceive the po­ten­tial cost of gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion, he does not un­der­stand the value of the en­vi­ron­ment or the cost of en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age. He is un­able to com­pre­hend that the cost of no or weak reg­u­la­tion can vastly out­weigh any po­ten­tial ben­e­fit to cor­po­rate prof­its.

The EPA is cer­tainly not per­fect and of­ten does more harm than good, but it could be im­proved and made more ef­fec­tive by purging cor­po­rate in­flu­ence and in­stalling in­tel­li­gent lead­er­ship ac­count­able to the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

Sys­tem­at­i­cally dis­man­tling the EPA will re­sult in ir­re­versible dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment and econ­omy and will cause need­less hu­man ill­ness and death. It is an act of war on the en­vi­ron­ment and the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

Sea lam­preys (Petromy­zon mar­i­nus) are par­a­sitic fish na­tive to the At­lantic Ocean that have in­vaded the Great Laks. Sea lam­preys par­a­sitize other fish by suck­ing their blood and other body flu­ids.

In­va­sive Quagga Mus­sles cov­er­ing the wreck of the 1860 wreck of schooner Kyle Span­gler.

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