Senators commit to fixing ballast water issue

WASHINGTON – During a Senate vote on ballast water legislation Thursday afternoon, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairperson of the Senate environment and public works committee, and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) committed themselves to resolve the issue before the September 2008 permitting deadline, the National Marina Manufacturers Association reported in a press release today.

“A recent court ruling has cast doubt on whether recreational boaters — people going out for a day of fishing, or waterskiing — can continue to operate without a permit from the EPA,” Nelson said. “They’ve never been required to have such a permit, and there’s no reason for that to change. You shouldn’t have to ask the EPA before you take your boat out on the water.”

Environmental groups and several state Attorney Generals successfully argued in a U.S. District Court case last fall that ballast water should not be exempted from government regulation as a pollutant because it introduces harmful invasive species into U.S. waters. Large ocean-going ships use ballast water for stability, taking on water to weigh the vessel down.

The court’s ruling also includes boat engine cooling water, bilge water, gray water and common deck runoff—none of which the court considered, as the case focused solely on commercial ship ballast water. The court has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a new permitting scheme for the nation’s estimated 18 million boats before September 2008.

“I agree [with Senator Nelson] and will support that recreational boating and sport fishing should be allowed to continue as they always have — without individual NPDES permits,” Boxer said, referring to the national pollutant discharge elimination system historically associated with large industrial and municipal sites. “So we’ve decided that our offices will begin work immediately to find a legislative solution that accomplishes both of these goals as soon as possible, and no later than next September.”

NMMA, leading a coalition of boating and outdoor recreation partners, has created a grassroots Web site,, to mobilize the boating community on the ballast water permitting issue.

  • For more of the latest news, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *