Beware: Invasive Species and Corrupt Politicians
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.