Shipping industry calls for review of environmental regulation

October 20, 2014

An organization representing U.S. shipping companies has urged Congress to approve national standards on water discharge, in response to varying state regulations which can cause numerous complications, according to the Houston Chronicle. 

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act is intended to provide an overarching federal standard for water discharge. Shipping organizations have long complained about state discharge regulations that can vary widely from state to state, making it near-impossible to ensure compliance. 

Shipping  boats regularly take on ballast water for stability, but this intake can often come with uninvited guests. When harmful invasive species are taken on, they can be later released into harbors and other bodies of water, causing significant damage to local ecosystems. State governments have passed their own regulations to avoid these events, but shipping industry stakeholders claim the nature of their business should make relevant laws a federal issue. 

"Give us a standard, even a high standard, that's in the realm that technology can meet, and we'll meet that standard," Matt Woodruff, director of public and government affairs for Kirby Corp., a Houston company pushing for the legislation, told the Houston Chronicle. "We're not trying to avoid regulation, we're just trying to have consistent regulation."

However, some environmental proponents disagree with this stance. Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the source that it would be inappropriate to deny states the right to draft their own regulations, as they each have different environments to protect. Invasive species alter the chemical and physical aquatic environment, and cost the country billions in damages to local water supplies.

Environmental consultants help organizations on both sides of the issues determine sensible regulations that both protect the environment while fostering economic growth.