Advocacy Forwards Small Business Concerns on Coast Guard’s Proposed Ballast Water Discharge Standards
The U.S. Coast Guard proposed a new rule amending its regulations on ballast water management on August 28. The proposed rule sets standards for the allowable concentration of living organisms in ballast water discharged in U.S. waters. The rule is part of the Coast Guard’s efforts to manage invasive species in U.S. waters.
The proposal would establish a two-phased ballast water discharge standard and an approval process for on-board ballast water treatment systems The proposal includes a five-year grandfathering provision for vessels that comply with the phase-one standard prior to January 1, 2016.
Small business representatives of the tugboat, towing and supply vessel industries contacted Advocacy with concerns about the proposed standards. They explained that many vessels use only municipal water in their ballast tanks, which has not been shown to contribute to the spread of invasive species. They also explained that most tugboats, towing and supply vessels do not discharge ballast water in quantities sufficient to warrant installing expensive treatment systems. Additionally, because the ballast water management systems required by the rule would be very costly, small businesses expressed that the grandfathering period for the phase-two standard should be extended for the life of a typical treatment system.
On December 4, Advocacy sent a letter to the U.S. Coast Guard asking it to craft an exemption for vessels that use only municipal water in their ballast tanks and to examine the relative benefits of imposing the new standards on small vessels that have low-volume ballast tanks. Advocacy also urged the Coast Guard to consider a grandfathering provision for the phase-two standard that provides more flexibility for small businesses.
Jamie Belcore Saloom
Assistant Chief Counsel