Senate passes Vessel Incidental Discharge Act

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The following is text of a news release from the American Waterways Operators (AWO):

(ARLINGTON, Va.) — The American Waterways Operators welcomes Senate passage of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) as part of the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, which passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 94-6.

VIDA is bipartisan legislation that will streamline a broken regulatory system in which commercial vessels moving vital maritime commerce on U.S. waterways are subject to inconsistent and duplicative vessel discharge regulations from 25 states and two federal agencies. Under VIDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard will work together under the Clean Water Act to jointly set and implement standards for ballast water and incidental discharges, in consultation with the states. The legislation will give vessel owners and mariners the certainty of a nationally consistent regulatory system, while ensuring high standards of environmental protection using the best technology economically achievable.

The bipartisan compromise overwhelmingly passed by the Senate is the product of thoughtful deliberation between the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works over more than six months. VIDA was originally introduced by Sens. Thune, R-S.D., Carper, D-Del., Nelson, D-Fla., Casey, D-Pa., Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Wicker, R-Miss.  

"AWO is very pleased that this much needed legislation, which provides a common-sense solution to a disjointed collection of federal and state vessel discharge regulations, while ensuring the highest standards of marine environmental protection, is one step closer to becoming law," said AWO President and CEO Tom Allegretti. "We thank Majority Leader McConnell, Chairman Thune of the Senate Commerce Committee, ranking member Carper of the Senate EPW Committee, as well as Sens. Wicker, Sullivan, Nelson, and Casey for their leadership. We are optimistic that this important legislation for America's vessel owners and mariners – who every year transport over 760 million tons of vital commodities that power the nation's economy – will swiftly pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by the president."

Text of a news release from the Lake Carriers' Association (LCA):

(CLEVELAND) — Lake Carriers’ Association, the trade association representing U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes since 1880, has issued the following statement on passage of the 2018 U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act, which includes the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA):

"Lake Carriers’ Association is pleased with the Senate passage of the 2018 U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act including the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA). VIDA is the result of many stakeholders coming to the table to craft this final version. VIDA is a good balance, achieving protection of both the economy and the environment. Importantly, it includes Great Lakes-specific provisions that provide the flexibility to establish uniform practices and standards more protective of our Great Lakes. Over the next few years, LCA looks forward to engaging with our government and regional partners to develop practical and implementable regulations to meet the letter and spirit of the bill.”

By Professional Mariner Staff