We urgently need your calls to our U.S. Senators, Klobuchar and Smith, asking them to oppose the Coast Guard Authorization Act because it contains bad ballast water provisions that will increase the risk of new invasions of aquatic invasive species. The Senate will hold a vote on the Coast Guard bill tomorrow (Wednesday). It takes 60 votes to move the bill. Neither of our Senators has announced her position.
Please contact both Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Tina Smith TODAY and urge them to oppose the Coast Guard Authorization Act (S. 1129)!
Contact your Senators via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
While a brief call is best, you can also send e mails using the e mail forms on their websites:
Ballast water discharges from Great Lakes ships are the source of nasty aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, spiny water flea, quagga mussels and many more. These are wreaking havoc on our inland lakes (Mille Lacs, etc.) and more are on the doorstep which could up end the Lake Superior fishery before moving inland. Minnesota waters receive more than half of all ballast water discharges in the entire Great Lakes! Minnesota has good ballast regulations just going into effect, but provisions tucked into part of the federal bill (known as the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act or VIDA) will eliminate Minnesota’s rules and leave us open to more waves of aquatic invaders.
Amendments to VIDA are circulating, but they do not fix its fundamental flaws, including:
- Transfers regulatory authority from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the agency with water pollution expertise—to the Coast Guard, whose top priority is homeland security;
- Preempts (eliminates) Minnesota’s right to protect MN waters and nullifies very carefully crafted, scientifically sound ballast water regulations;
- Effectively exempts intra Great Lakes vessels which are known to move invasive species from lower infested Lakes to pristine Lake Superior;
- Eliminates the Clean Water Act’s protections;
- Removes the Clean Water Act’s function of driving the development of improvements in treatment technology.
Your calls and e mails NOW are critically important. Please contact both Senators’ offices and express your deep concerns with the VIDA legislation and ask them to vote “no” on Wednesday, unless VIDA is removed from the Coast Guard bill.