Port directors call for enactment of vessel discharge legislation

The directors of commercial ports on the Great Lakes issued a joint letter July 18 urging the U.S. Congress to adopt the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act. Writing to the Senate Armed Services Committee, 14 port authorities called on legislators to include ballast regulatory reform in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The vessel discharge reforms were included in the House-passed version of NDAA, but were not included in the Senate-passed version. A House-Senate conference committee will hammer out a final version of the legislation in coming weeks.

Currently, two federal agencies and more than two dozen states regulate ballast water and other vessel discharges. In the Great Lakes region, seven of the eight states have their own discharge rules. Some of these rules are harmonized, some are not. This chaotic regulatory landscape threatens the future of waterborne transportation on the Great Lakes/Seaway system. If adopted, the legislation would streamline regulatory requirements by consolidating all oversight in the U.S. Coast Guard while maintaining the same level of environmental protection.

To view a copy of the letter, please click here.

Maritime Editorial