April 17, 2018
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
RE: Oppose S.1129, an assault on the Clean Water Act
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) works to turn environmental values into national priorities. Each year, LCV publishes the National Environmental Scorecard, which details the voting records of members of Congress on environmental legislation. The Scorecard is distributed to LCV members, concerned voters nationwide, and the media.
LCV urges you to vote NO on S.1129, the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, unless the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) provisions are removed from the bill. VIDA is a direct assault on the Clean Water Act and would jeopardize the health of our waterways by exposing them to a higher risk of invasive species.
Ballast water is a major source of aquatic invasive species in the US. Aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, quagga mussels, and Asian green mussels cost US taxpayers billions of dollars every year, damage infrastructure like facilities for public water supplies, energy generation, and private industry, and threaten our communities and ecosystems. They also devastate commercial and recreational fisheries.
Yet instead of improving the situation, VIDA would leave our waters more vulnerable to invasive species by exempting the shipping industry from requirements under the Clean Water Act in favor of a new, weaker regulatory scheme. In addition, VIDA shifts authority for regulating ballast water away from the EPA and transfers it to the Coast Guard, which runs directly counter to the pollution discharge regulatory authority given to EPA by the Clean Water Act and sets a dangerous precedent of transferring authority to agencies ill-equipped to handle the responsibility. These troubling provisions would also preempt the states’ abilities to protect their waterways from pollution and invasive species by eliminating their ability to enact and enforce their own ballast water rules. Lastly, VIDA would further jeopardize some of our most iconic water bodies, such as the Great Lakes, by exempting ships in geographically restricted areas from any regulation.
Invasive aquatic species are already wreaking havoc on our waterways, and we cannot afford to rollback standards and exempt the shipping industry from commonsense clean water protections.
Again, LCV urges you to oppose S.1129, the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, unless the VIDA provisions are removed. We will strongly consider including votes on this legislation in the 2018 Scorecard. If you need more information, please call my office at (202) 785-8683 and ask to speak with a member of our government relations team.