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article imageGovernor Granholm Requesting Ballast Laws To Protect Great Lakes

By Laura Trowbridge     Aug 30, 2007 in Environment
Michigan's Governor Granholm sent letters out yesterday to the premiers of Ontario and Quebec, as well as to the governors of the other states surrounding the Great Lakes, to join Michigan in legislating ballast laws against ocean-going ships.
U.S. District Court Judge John Feikens in Detroit has just recently upheld the Michigan's ballast law against several shipping-related interests that were challenging it in court.
The ballast law was signed by Granholm in 2005, but just went into effect this year. The law requires all ocean-going vessels to seek permits from the state that either certify they will not discharge ballast water while in Michigan's ports, or that they will treat the ballast water before it is released. Twenty-seven shipping companies have thus far obtained permits for 73 ships.
When ships are traveling without cargo they often need to take in ballast water to help stabilize the vessel. This ballast water is released when the ship reaches a port where it will then load up the cargo it came for.
The problem is there are many living species in this water that then get released into the new waters. The existing, native species can get overtaken by the foreign species causing environmental harm to both the lake and the native species, as well as economic ramifications. The invasive zebra mussel has clogged water intake pipes among other problems in our Great Lakes.
The law in Michigan was enacted to prevent more of these potentially devastating alien species from being released into the Great Lakes.
Granholm says, "We should seize the opportunity for coordinated state regulation to prevent the economic and environmental damage that could be caused by the next species to arrive in ballast water. I urge you to join Michigan in protecting the Great Lakes..."
The Ohio House of Representatives will soon be considering legislation that will give their state's Dept. of Natural Resources a similar power for issuing permits and doing ship inspections like Michigan's ballast law affords..
More about Granholm, Great lakes, Ballast laws
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