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Ship discharging ballast water. Photo US Geological Survey
Ship discharging ballast water. Photo US Geological Survey

National Wildlife Federation expands challenge to new invasives rules

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A national environmental group is expanding its legal challenge to new state and Federal rules designed to keep invasive species out the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.

Neil Kagan, senior counsel with the National Wildlife Federation, says new standards aren't strict enough to keep dangerous organisms from reaching the US in the ballast water of ships, "Neither the EPA permit, nor the state's certification of that are sufficient to prevent new invasive species from coming into New York waters."

The National Wildlife Federation is already suing New York, pushing the state to adopt tougher standards.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

Late last week, the group also filed a motion in US District Court to prevent the Environmental Protection agency from overriding New York's laws, if more stringent rules are created.

Kagan said, "EPA has the authority to issue a national permit, but that does not override the state's independent authority, recognized by Congress, to go beyong the national permit in order to protect the quality of its own waters."

New York originally proposed far more stringent new standards, supported by many environmental groups and by North Country lawmakers.

But those rules were withdrawn by the Cuomo administration, following criticism from the shipping industry, which argued that tougher guidelines would stifle shipping traffic to the Great Lakes.

Federal officials also objected to New York's tougher laws, arguing that uniform national standards are needed to allow interstate commerce.

Invasive organisms, such as the zebra mussel and spiny water flea, are blamed for disrupting ecosystems in the North Country and Lake Ontario.  Scientists say many of them arrived aboard commercial freighters from overseas.

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