Andrew Cohen publishes op-ed on failure to regulate ballast water discharges
Andrew Cohen's op-ed in the Hill, the pollution EPA refuses to regulate, describes the consequences of failing to regulate ballast water discharges. Ballast water inadvertently transports invasive aquatic species and human and animal pathogens around the world.
Cohen writes, "at its enactment, the Clean Water Act directed EPA to regulate all pollution discharges into U.S. waters. If EPA had at that time obeyed the law and established regulations for ballast discharges, it could have prevented the invasion of the Great Lakes by Zebra and Quagga Mussels and their subsequent spread to rivers, lakes and ponds throughout the country. If EPA had just done its job, the Asian Clam likely would not have covered the bottom of San Francisco Bay, the Japanese Shorecrab would not have invaded the Atlantic Coast, and Gulf Coast oysters would not have been infected by pandemic bacterial pathogens carried in ballast tanks."
This year, Cohen co-organized a letter from 34 members of Congress to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, and a letter from 176 organizations to President Biden asking the EPA to "finally establish discharge standards for ships’ ballast water that comply with the Clean Water Act."
He also notes that "23 years ago environmental groups, commercial fishermen, water agencies, Native American tribes and members of Congress asked EPA to regulate ballast water discharges, but EPA refused. When the courts eventually forced EPA to establish regulations, the agency simply adopted discharge standards that duplicated existing federal requirements — which of course did nothing to reduce the discharge of harmful organisms, and which the courts rejected. Now, EPA is proposing to re-issue precisely the same discharge standards, word-for-word."
Cohen argues that it is long past time for the EPA to require ships to treat their ballast discharges using the best available treatment technology, as required by the Clean Water Act, and "protect the health and environment of all Americans as Congress intended."