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Group sues EPA for stronger ballast regulations

The National Wildlife Federation today said it has filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency, seeking stronger regulations on ballast water in ships.

Ship
The National Wildlife Federation says the rules don't go far enough to keep invasives out of U.S. waters, including the Great Lakes. (1999 file / News Tribune)

The National Wildlife Federation today said it has filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency, seeking stronger regulations on ballast water in ships.

The group says it wants the agency to adopt measures that will effectively stop vessels discharging ballast water from introducing and spreading harmful aquatic invasive species.

The EPA in April announced its ballast water regulations after years of delays and actions by environmental groups to force the issue. But the National Wildlife Federation says the rules don't go far enough to keep invasives out of U.S. waters, including the Great Lakes.

"The EPA's permit will not adequately protect the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters from ballast water invaders. This weak permit leaves the door open for future harm to our environment and economy," Marc Smith, senior policy manager for the group, said in announcing the suit. "We can do better -- and need to do better -- if we are to protect our fish and wildlife and their habitat for future generations."

Shipping interests say the EPA regulations are adequate to protect against new invaders and have said that any more stringent regulations may be impossible to meet.

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Several invasive species such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobies are believed to have hitchhiked in the ballast water of ships coming to the U.S. and have caused problems in ports and the Great Lakes.

The suit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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