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Environmental groups urge Snyder to veto water bill

Flickr User Aryeh Alex

Environmental groups say a bill headed for Governor Rick Snyder’s desk could increase the amount of invasive species in the Great Lakes.

The bill involves ballast water. That’s water large ships collect to help stabilize their vessel. The ships gather the water in one region, taking plant and animal species with them, and then when the ship doesn’t need the water, it dumps it someplace else. The bill loosens the treatment regulations on that water before it’s dumped into the Great Lakes.

Nicholas Occhipinti, government affairs director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, said the group plans to work with other organizations and concerned citizens to urge the governor to vote no.

“I think it’s a pretty easy sell that protecting the Great Lakes is just of critical importance to the people of Michigan,” he said.

Snyder could veto the measure – it sat in the Legislature for months because it was likely Snyder would veto it. But the bill was amended before it passed, and the bill’s sponsor, Representative Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway) said he didn’t want to sit on it anymore. He hopes the changes mean the governor will sign it.

“I mean the governor could decide to go the other way on this,” he said. “That’d be a real shame and I can’t imagine he’d want to take a step back.”

Lauwers said the bill would improve the state’s shipping industry and because it follows the federal treatment standards, wouldn’t be harmful to the environment.

But Occhipinti and other environmental groups still aren’t on board.

“Improvements were made to the bill but it’s just not good enough for the Great Lakes,” said Occhipinti.

A spokesperson for the governor says he has not reviewed the bill yet and could not comment. The bill has yet to be formally presented to governor who then would have 14 days to decide.