Ballast Management Legislation Signed into Law

Legislation that sets standards for incidental water discharges from vessels has been signed into public law.  The Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, S. 140, which includes the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), passed the Senate and moved to the president to be signed in late 2018.

The provision places the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the lead role of establishing standards for ballast water discharge, and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) will monitor and enforce compliance. Both the EPA and USCG will work to develop the regulations and policies to implement VIDA.

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), a unified and collective voice for America’s seaports, supported passage of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) in the 115th Congress. AAPA has been working with the American Waterways Operators and its longstanding coalition advocacy efforts to reform an overlapping patchwork of federal and state regulations and set a nationally consistent framework for the regulation of ballast water and other vessel discharges.

AAPA supports a strong ballast water management program to reduce the risk of invasive species in navigable waterways. Prior to the passage of the act, both EPA and USCG had regulations in place through two different statutes, and they were not fully consistent regarding compliance. AAPA called for a uniform federal program, including pre-emption of varying state laws. Widely varying state requirements for the operation of vessels involved in international or interstate trade can adversely affect the competitiveness of the U.S. port industry and create compliance challenges for the commercial shipping industry. —AAPA

For more details on ballast water management and state vs. national ballast water standards, read the full text of the act or the AAPA information sheet.

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