Senate panel approves Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act

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(WASHINGTON) — A Senate panel approved a bill Thursday that includes the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, a measure that would set a single national standard for ballast water discharges from maritime vessels, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The voice vote by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee represented a key hurdle crossed by CVIDA, which the shipping industry has backed for years, arguing that a patchwork of state regulations wastes money and time while doing little to help water quality.

"Without (this change), thousands of commercial vessels will spend billions of dollars installing ballast water management systems to meet the federal standard but will still be at risk of fines and penalties for violating several different state standards these (systems) can't meet," the Lake Carriers Association, representing vessel operators in the Great Lakes, said in an earlier statement in support of the legislation.

Critics say provisions in the act will expose the Great Lakes to greater danger from invasive species. Noting the ongoing concerns, committee chairman Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and the ranking Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, said they will continue to work with critics on a compromise before the legislation reaches the floor of the Senate.

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By Professional Mariner Staff