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Groups Sue EPA Over Lax Invasive Species Rules

Publication Date: 
January 12, 2009
The Huffington Post
John Flesher for the Associated Press (AP)

The Huffington Post carried this AP story about the petition that our Environmental Law Clinic filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of several environmental organizations seeking a review of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) implementation of Clean Water Act permits for failing to meet federal requirements by allowing ships to discharge untreated ballast water containing invasive species that are significantly altering native habitats in U.S. coastal waters and in the Great Lakes. The AP reports:

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Environmentalists sued the federal government Monday over new rules that critics say do too little to prevent cargo ships from dumping invasive species into the nation's waterways.

The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring oceangoing vessels to exchange their ballast water, or rinse their ballast tanks if empty, before entering U.S. coastal waters and the Great Lakes. Environmentalists say more extensive treatment of ballast tanks is necessary to keep invasive species from foreign ports from damaging U.S. aquatic ecosystems.

Ballast water, which keeps vessels stable in rough seas, is blamed for carrying zebra mussels and many other invasive species into U.S. waters where they have overwhelmed native species and caused other environmental harm.

In their lawsuit filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, three groups contend the EPA permit's requirements are too weak to meet Clean Water Act standards.

"The law does not allow EPA to do what's politically expedient," said Deborah Sivas, director of the Stanford Law School Environmental Clinic. "It requires what is necessary to protect our waters."

The clinic is representing Northwest Environmental Advocates, People for Puget Sound and the Center for Biological Diversity.