Federal Judge Orders EPA to Regulate Ballast Water in U.S. Waters

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) exemption to the discharging of ballast water by ships in U.S. harbors and coastal waters contradicts the interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act, and exceeds the agency's regulatory authority.

The Ocean Conservatory, one of six environmental groups that sued the EPA, focused on ballast discharges in San Francisco Bay and the Great Lakes. Every year, over 21 billion gallons of international ballast water is brought into U.S. territorial waters, and contains non-native and alien species that are threatening the entire marine ecosystem of America.

Invasive marine species introduced by ballast water discharges have affected not only waterways, but businesses, taxpayers, and economies around the United States. These invasive species harm commercial fishing and shell-fishing, clog intake pipes of power plants and drinking water treatment facilities, destroy habitats, and push threatened species to the brink of extinction.

The federal judge's decision will apply nationally, unless it is reversed on appeal.