A federal judge called invasive species possibly stored aboard the ballast water of ships an "irreparable" degradation to the nation's coastal environment, and ordered federal regulators to take a much tougher stand, according to a report on www.columbian.com.
In a ruling on a lawsuit brought by Portland-based Northwest Environmental Advocates and other environmental groups, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
to begin regulating ballast water just as if it were sewage pouring out of a factory. In doing so, the judge threw out an exemption that had been in effect for three decades.
"The EPA regulation is plainly contrary to the congressional intent embodied in the (Clean Water Act)," Illston wrote in a 21-page decision issued Monday in San Francisco.
The ruling comes as state authorities across the country push to minimize the ecological threat posed by ballast water transfers.
Washington state regulators had been working with federal authorities to tighten regulations under a different law the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 to encourage the development of so-far untested treatment technologies. Regulators pushed for the U.S. Coast Guard to beef up enforcement of a recent requirement for vessels to exchange ballast water in the harsher ocean environment rather than waiting until they arrive at American ports.
Illston's ruling for the first time recognizes the role of the Clean Water Act of 1972 in addressing shipboard discharges.
The judge gave the EPA two years until Sept. 30, 2008 to come up with a new regulation that complies with the landmark environmental law signed by President Richard M. Nixon. (Source: http://www.columbian.com)