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Appeals Court backs PCA ballast rules

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday sided with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's new regulations to control ballast water discharges from ships on Lake Superior.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday sided with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's new regulations to control ballast water discharges from ships on Lake Superior.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy had filed suit against the PCA saying the agency was moving too slowly and had standards too lax to regulate ballast water. The group wanted tougher standards on ships imposed sooner than 2012 for new ships and 2016 for existing ships the PCA has called for.

The court's decision upholds the permit system installed by the PCA last year for nearly all ships that discharge any ballast water or carry ballast water through Minnesota waters of Lake Superior.

The ruling essentially said the agency had followed state rules.

"It is not our role to reweigh policy determinations that require an agency's technical knowledge or expertise,'' the judges wrote in their decision.

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Industry groups say the PCA rules go too far, too fast, especially by requiring treatment of discharge from lakers, which are freighters that never leave the Great Lakes.

But the environmental group said the PCA's rule may come too late to protect the state's waters from invading species like the fish-killing VHS virus that already are as close as Lake Michigan.

"The court didn't say the PCA did it right and it didn't say our most outstanding resources, like Lake Superior, will be protected," said Matt Norton, lawyer for the MCEA. "The court said that under the law, it has to defer to the PCA unless they do something completely irrational."

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