CG Authorization Hung Up on Ballast Water Provision

Based on a Wisconsin Public Radio report, it sounds like the Coast Guard authorization bill has been stalled in the Senate over a provision that would have given the Coast Guard sole responsibility for ballast water regulation, taking the EPA out of the business of regulating this potential source of invasive species.

One thought on “CG Authorization Hung Up on Ballast Water Provision

  1. Giving one agency responsibility for regulating a specific requirement, like ballast water, is usually good policy. It avoids duplication and contradictions. The Coast Guard has ballast water regulations in place and they appear to be working at least in this early stage. The EPA regulates ballast water through its Vessel General Permit program, under the Clean Water Act, which regulates all discharges from a vessel including ballast water. By policy the EPA has more or less set the same standards as the Coast Guard with a few add on requirements such as a ballast water plan and crew training; so, in practice there is not many contradictions between CG and EPA requirements. However, EPA policy can change. Also, because EPA approves States to regulate under the Clean Water Act some states have added their own requirements which complicate the CG’s role. One solution would be to preempt State requirements regarding ballast water, so, that only the Federal standards would apply; and second, designate the CG as the lead agency for ballast water, so, that the technical standards (the expensive part of the regulations) predominate. This seems to be what is being attempted and negotiated in Congress.

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