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Bill in state Senate would alter Michigan ballast water law

Daniel Imfeld

Michigan’s ballast water regulations could change if a bill that passed the state house can make it through the Senate.

Republican State Representative Dan Lauwers is a bill sponsor. He said in 2006 Michigan adopted new ballast water laws to curb the spread of invasive species.

“Unfortunately we did not see the rest of the Great Lakes follow suit. So the other Great Lakes states and provinces did not follow Michigan’s lead and essentially Michigan lost all of its export business to the surrounding states and Ontario.”

Representative Lauwers said in 2012 the Coast Guard came out with its own ballast water rules.

“What we’ve done is basically said Michigan is going to accept the Federal EPA and Coast Guard standards for ballast water management. You still have to get a permit from the State of Michigan but if you’ve installed the ballast water management systems or you can prove that you will not discharge ballast water in our waters we’ll give you a permit and we can get back in the export business.”

Representative Lauwers said Coast Guard rules are not less stringent but do include a wider variety of ballast water management systems. He said matching Michigan’s regulations to the Coast Guard rules should reopen state ports.

“Today farmers in this area truck their grain to Toledo where they still use the same Great Lakes and they put it on a vessel and out it goes. Some people worried that we were lowering our standards and that’s not the case at all.”

Representative Lauwers said he is hopeful that the Senate will pass his bill - and that once regulations are standardized business will return to state ports.