April 25, 2008
House defies Bush on Coast Guard Act ... sort of
The House sort of defied a threatened Bush veto by by passing the $8.4 billion Coast Guard Authorization Act by a veto-proof 395 to 7. However, the bill as-passed now includes a Republican-backed amendment that allows the Coast Guard take into account agency, state and local government security resources when deciding on security needs for LNG terminals and vessels--the issue that prompted the veto threat.
Meantime, Great Lakes environmentalists seem happy as clams that the act attempts to do something about zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species.
The act provides for stricter federal regulation of ballast water rules for ocean-going vessels.
"On behalf of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, I want to thank the U.S. House and our Michigan delegation for their leadership in accomplishing this initial victory in the battle to minimize the impact of aquatic invasive species on the Great Lakes," said MUCC Executive Director Dennis Muchmore. "These foreign aquatic invaders have been destroying our unique Great Lakes ecosystem, our sport fishery, our tourism economy and our communities for far too long -- regulation of ballast water is long overdue."
MUCC was heavily involved in helping the Michigan legislature create the first ballast water regulation in the nation in 2005, which enacted legislation to prohibit ocean-going vessels from discharging ballast water into Michigan's waters without necessary permits. The shipping industry sued the state over this law, but a Federal District Court upheld the statute in August of 2007. On the heels of this decision, says MUCC, the U.S. House's action in passing federal ballast water regulations is the first major step at the federal level in protecting the Great Lakes from further influx of aquatic invasive species.