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GLIN==> HR 2830: Great Lakes Political Leaders in Action!

For years across the Great Lakes region a resounding call for a solution to ballast mediated invasive species has been heard.  Our federal decision makers were pivitol in yesterday afternoon’s debate and passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act (H.R. 2830), which contained Title V (The Ballast Water Treatment Act of 2008). The bill passed by a vote of to 395 to 7! Every single federal Representative from the Great Lakes voted for the bill, and they all deserve our resounding thanks for their efforts to curb invasive species from ballast. ….please write a letter to your federal Representative saying thank you for protecting the Great Lakes!


For anyone who wasn’t able to watch the floor debate, here are highlights from yesterday’s floor discussion and recognition to all our Great Lakes leaders who got the job done:


  • Representative Oberstar (Minnesota), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was the spear head for this effort. Last year he brilliantly included a ballast title in a moving vehicle, the Coast Guard Authorization Act, and in recent months, working diligently with stakeholders and committee members to strengthen Title V, the Ballast Water Treatment act of 2008. He also included two amendments originally proposed by Representatives Emanuel (Illinois) and Kind (Wisconsin) in the managers amendment to enhance reporting and transparency, and also clarify that vessels claiming no ballast on board had to comply with treatment requirements when they come into force. Mr. Oberstar also set an optimistic tone for the future of the bill when he stated on the floor that he hoped the bill would go to conference by or before the beginning of this summer.


  • Representative LaTourette (Ohio) is the ranking minority member of the Coast Guard Subcommittee. Without his support, this bill wouldn’t have seen the light of day. On the floor he expressed numerous times “how proud of this bill he was and for parties to come together and do the right thing.”


  • On the floor Representative Knollenberg (Michigan) expressed strong support of the ballast treatment requirements, saying “It will go a long way to keeping invasive species out of the Lakes....we in Michigan face threats to the lakes from many angles, from those that want to pollute them, to those that want to take them away. I'm proud today that we've strengthened provisions that will protect the Great Lakes."


  • Representative Kirk (Illinois) led an important amendment to ensure that the Coast Guard has the authority to require rapid response onboard Lakers if they present the risk of spreading infectious disease from one lake to another. Representative Slaughter (New York) played a critical role in ensuring the Kirk amendment made its way to the floor. As chairwoman of the Rules Committee she decides which amendments are included in the floor discussion. Both Mr. Oberstar and Mr. LaTourette voiced support for the Kirk amendment on the floor and commended him on the technical catch. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.


  • Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Higgins, the only Great Lakes representative unable to cast a vote, absent due to a death in the family. Representative Higgins (New York) and Ehlers (Michigan) lead the charge in November 2007 when they sent a letter signed by 34 Great Lakes Representatives to Mr. Oberstar applauding him for his leadership and asking for critical improvements to Title V.  Their recommendations were incorporated in the version that passed yesterday.


  • Perhaps Mr. Ehlers (Michigan) wrapped it up it best with his happily made floor statement: "Today is a great day for the Great Lakes and the coastal areas, but today is a terrible day for the next zebra mussel."


See the final vote recorded here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll223.xml