Update/Correction: NYS folds on tough state ballast water restrictions

This morning, I reported that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is blasting Federal officials for proposing new ballast water treatment rules that DEC commissioner Joe Martens describes as neither adequate nor effective.

I also reported that DEC is also moving to implement its own standards, which are roughly 100 times more stringent.

Turns out I only had the story half right.

It’s true that Martens sent the letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson offering a laundry list of complaints about the proposed new rules and calling for them to be toughtened.

But in a separate press release issued Wednesday, which I hadn’t seen, the commissioner also announced that he’s shelving New York state’s tough rules, which were scheduled to go into effect next year.

“A technically feasible national standard which recognizes the critical economic role played by our waterways is the only viable way to address the spread of destructive aquatic invaders through ballast water,” Martens said.

Martens suggests that New York state plans to negotiate to try to toughen Federal rules, bringing them closer to the guidelines originally proposed by the DEC.

But in unilaterally shelving the proposed DEC rules, state officials in Albany have already effectively given up their biggest bargaining chip.

“New York remains concerned about the introduction and spread of invasive species in the state’s waterways and we hope that a strong national solution can be achieved,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said.

“At the same time, shipping and maritime activity is critical to New York state and international commerce. A technically feasible national standard which recognizes the critical economic role played by our waterways is the only viable way to address the spread of destructive aquatic invaders through ballast water.”

New York’s decision to shelve its ballast regs drew quick raves from opponents of the ballast water rules.  Industry groups and the Canadian government both praised the decision.

“New York’s decision effectively eliminates the unworkable ballast water rules put in place during the Paterson Administration. We applaud Governor Cuomo for protecting jobs and supporting the thousands of Americans who make their living in the maritime industry,” said Steve Fisher, Executive Director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, in a statemente.

“Canada applauds New York State for withdrawing its unattainable ballast water requirements and agrees that uniform standards are the best way to protect the marine environment,” said Parliamentary Secretary Poilievre, who handles transportation issues for Canada.

“We welcome this action as enforcement of the rules on transiting ships would have stopped commercial shipping on the Seaway. This could have affected almost $11 billion in business revenue and up to 72,000 jobs in Canada and the United States.”

Meanwhile, the DEC’s decision is a setback for environmental groups, who had hoped that New York state’s tough rules would serve as leverage to elevate national standards.  This from Reuters:

“The EPA’s new proposed permit isn’t tough enough to prevent the next harmful invader from slipping into our waters,” said Thom Cmar of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Several technologies exist to treat ballast water, which Cmar said are similar to municipal wastewater treatment that cleans water with chemicals, ultraviolet light, or filtration systems. He said it would cost less than $1 million to outfit a typical cargo vessel.

More on this story Monday during The Eight O’clock Hour.

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4 Comments on “Update/Correction: NYS folds on tough state ballast water restrictions”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    Coward! I’ll bet King Cuomo got to him.

  2. Two Cents says:

    Bad news unless the jobs Cuomo is saving are Zebra mussel harvesters, and Asian Karp air traffic controllers…

  3. don says:

    NY caving in has been predictable as this whole states rights approach has been a scam from the beginning to delay any strong Federal action until the Federal government can hook up American policy with the IMO. Dose anybody just think it is coincidental NY delays action till after the presidential election and the IMO is suppose to try an accomplish something in 2013 with their ballast water conference that has been outdated since 2004? To not understand the history of ballast water politics and the strong legislation passed in the House 395-7, only to be turned down by this administrations party, allows history and our politicians to continue repeating the game they are playing on behalf of the foreign shipping industry, all while environmentalist again rattle their swords saying they may again sue after the next presidential election when the next commander and chief may plan to do away with the EPA. It will take a president who cares more about the Americans health and environment, than the cost to economic globalization as a results of increasing foreign shipping costs. In order to address all of the national security issues that ballast water presents it will take a comprehensive plan addressing toxic chemicals, tar balls, nuclear waste water, purposefully induced threats, virus, and living invasive s that reproduce. Legislation is the best protection as any military or agency plan is more subject to change or disregard if the elections replacing the commander and chief can change their course of direction.

  4. Mary Thill says:

    I’d like to see more detail on the feasibility and cost of ballast treatment. Industries have a track record of claiming new regs are unfeasible when in fact cleaner technologies are proven.

    Puzzled why New York would just surrender its leverage over EPA for better federal standards. The state has also lost standing to criticize Illinois for its handling of Asian carp.

    Please watch phrases such as: “DEC’s decision is a setback for environmental groups.” The decision is a setback for the long-range Great Lakes economy and environment. The groups will be fine.

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