House Votes to Allow Weaker Ballast Discharges

Sportsmen and others concerned about the rising tide of invasive species lost a round to the shipping industry recently when the House voted to order the Environmental Protection Agency to use weaker ballast discharge standards established by that industry in setting new nationwide rules.

Shipping ballast is known to have delivered dozens of invasives that have taken a heavy toll on fisheries and wildlife across the nation. States have been moving independently to stop the invasion, with 29 passing rules requiring strict cleaning and inspection of ballast. And the EPA is in the process of establishing nation-wide standards following a federal court ruling that made ballast and other water discharged form ships subject to regulations under the Clean Water Act.

But shipping lobbyists made their investments felt in the House by including a measure in the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill (HR 2838) that would require the federal agency to use industry standards–100 times weaker than those set by the state of New York.

Conservation groups were outraged by the blatant handout to an industry, but few think the measure will get through the Senate.

Feds Say They Are Listening to Sportsmen on Solar Concerns

Thanks–but we’ll be watching.

That’s the attitude sportsmen should be taking following an encouraging conference with federal officials last week in Las Vegas on policies being developed to direct the nation’s push into large-scale solar energy development at sites in western states. Although solar is preferable to fossil fuels, utility-scale development would involve huge landscape footprints. Sportsmen’s groups want to be on the front end of planning for sites, so facilities are not in wildlife-sensitive areas.

Speaking at “The Sportsmen Speak on Solar Forum” in Las Vegas, Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes and Bureau of Land Management said, “The economic power associated with protecting landscapes is compelling, and no one understands that better than sportsmen. Renewable energy development is a key part of the future of the world’s energy economy, but we recognize the importance of developing solar energy resources and practicing conservation simultaneously.”

The conference was organized by Sportsmen For Responsible Energy Development, which previously had applauded the administration’s decision to revisit its original development plans to assure fish, wildlife and recreational values were considered.