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Commercial Shipping Impacts on Water Quality and Invasive Species Introductions

Commercial Shipping Impacts on Water Quality and Invasive Species Introductions

During normal operations, ships from all over the world discharge both pollutants and invasive species into our marine and coastal environments. Both Pennsylvania Senators, Robert P. Casey and Pat Toomey, in conjunction with other senators, have co-sponsored legislation (S. 2094, the Vessels Incidental Discharge Act of 2014) which would relax environmental regulations on vessel discharges and circumvent the Clean Water Act (CWA) by excluding the US Environmental Protection Agency – an agency with water pollution expertise – from regulating vessel discharge.   This proposed legislation is a step backwards with respect to responsible management of ballast water discharges and does not sufficiently address the myriad of other discharges from vessels. We can’t let them roll back essential environmental regulation necessary for the protection our marine environments.

S2094 will harm:

  • The environment – Ships legally release oil, nutrients, toxics, and even sewage via operational discharges which result in negative environmental impacts.
  • Endangered species – Ships release invasive species from foreign ports that pose several dangers to aquatic ecosystems including outcompeting native species, threaten the survival of endangered species, and cause the destruction of aquatic habitats.
  • The economy – Invasive species released from ships cause property damages, declines in fishery yields and tourism, damage public water supplies and power plants, and cost the US government and taxpayers millions of dollars every year.  

Supporting Documents