DETROIT, April 2 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced that a federal court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate ballast water discharge from oceangoing ships under the Clean Water Act. Cox advocated the position as part of a regional effort tohalt the spread of harmful aquatic nuisance species into the Great Lakes.
“I applaud the court’s decision to safeguard our greatest natural
treasure, the Great Lakes,” Cox said. “These waters define Michigan and
provide a foundation for our state’s recreation, environment and economy. I
vow to continue fighting to protect Michigan’s environment today and for
In granting summary judgment, the court concluded: “Congress has directly
spoken on the question before the Court today, it is the end of the matter and
the Court, as well as the EPA, must give effect to the unambiguously expressed
intent of Congress.”
When large oceangoing vessels enter the Great Lakes and load their cargo,
they discharge ballast water carried from other ports. This water may contain
aquatic nuisance species, which wreak havoc on the ecosystem and reproduce
rapidly in the absence of natural predators and diseases in their new
Aquatic nuisance species such as the zebra mussel, sea lamprey, ruffe and
goby not only threaten the Great Lakes, but also pose a significant economic
threat to the State of Michigan. Commercial and recreational fishing,
boating, beaches, tourism and facilities, such as power plants that use water
from the Great Lakes, all suffer from the effects of these species.
The Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration estimated that controlling zebra mussels and sea
lampreys — two of the most harmful aquatic nuisance species — costs $45
million each year.
Cox, along with seven attorneys General from the Great Lakes region, filed
an amicus brief in the United States District Court for the Northern District
of California in San Francisco in July of 2004 challenging the EPA’s 1972
decision to exempt ballast water discharges from the Clean Water Act.