by Mitch Barrows
Lawmakers in the Michigan House are set to consider a bill that would weaken Michigan’s ballast water pollution standards. House Bill 5095 would effectively repeal the standards passed in 2005 with near unanimous bipartisan support, and leave us to rely exclusively on weaker federal standards for ballast water pollution. Freshwater Future responded with the following statement:
“Aquatic invasive species wreak havoc on Great Lakes waters, costing local and regional economies billions each year. The release of ballast water from Great Lakes ships has been undeniably a mode of entry for the most destructive aquatic invasive species-including zebra and quagga mussels, sea lamprey, and a variety of plant species. By lowering safeguards to weaker federal standards, Michigan lawmakers threaten the economic and ecological health and stability of the entire Great Lakes region.”
The direct threats of invasive species include preying on native species, out-competing native species for food or other resources, causing or carrying disease, and preventing native species from reproducing or killing a native species’ young.
As Great Lakes residents, many of our commercial, agricultural, and recreational activities depend on healthy native ecosystems. Invasive species are virtually impossible to eradicate once established in our waterways, and mitigation efforts are costly and many times non-existent. Thus their effects are irreversible.
The bill was approved by the committee on a vote of 9 yes, 3 no, 2 pass, 1 absent.
Read the official legislative analysis by clicking here for more detailed information on what changes the bill proposes.