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Legislative Update: Chamber Applauds Michigan House for Amending Ballast Water Rules, Protecting State’s Competitiveness

Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 5095, amending the state’s ballast water discharge regulations for ocean-going ships entering the state. The bill better aligns Michigan’s ballast water requirement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Vessel General Permit requirements and eliminates burdensome and confusing language that impacts jobs and economic growth in the region.

Ballast water regulation reform has been a longtime legislative priority for the Chamber and it applauds members of the House for taking the necessary steps to cultivate a competitive regulatory climate for Michigan businesses while maintaining their commitment to protecting the Great Lakes.

The Chamber’s government relations team testified in front of the House Committee on Commerce and Trade in support of the bill prior to the vote. Read the full testimony below. The bill now heads to the Michigan Senate for consideration. Members who are interested in supporting the legislation can contact Jason Puscas at 248.709.4866 or jpuscas@detroitchamber.com.

Testimony to the Michigan House Committee on Commerce and Trade in Support of House Bill 5095

Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber takes pride in advocating on behalf of businesses throughout the city and region. As one of the most influential chambers of commerce in the country, our members look for us to collaborate with government partners in support of Michigan’s reinvention and continued economic growth.

Our shared border with Canada serves as the largest trade crossing in the world, and the Great Lakes provide a vital conduit for both domestic and international trade. Michigan’s leaders must continue to ensure that this unique Michigan asset remains a stimulant for jobs and economic growth in the region.

Michigan’s current ballast water discharge requirements, however, present a barrier as our current patchwork of regulations creates confusion, costing time and money while doing little to protect our Great Lakes. When this permit took effect in 2007, the hope was that surrounding Great Lakes states would follow in our footsteps and implement the same standard, but this has failed to happen, all while putting Michigan at a significant competitive disadvantage.

A similar effort in 2007 and 2008 resulted in the successful implementation of the Great Lakes Compact,1 which saw eight states2 enter into a mutually agreed-upon set of standards on how to manage the Great Lakes basin’s water supply. Of those same eight states, however, only Michigan has adopted these unique standards. The other states3 have all generally harmonized their requirements with the EPA’s Vessel General Permit, which also meets the water quality standard adopted by the International Maritime Organization.

Because of Michigan’s ballast water regulations, we have watched business leave ports in Detroit for Toledo and Windsor. Instead of trying to address this issue as an isolated state, we need to support sufficient federal requirements4 that mandate that every state, not simply Michigan, work to protect our Great Lakes.

Michigan’s ports are a vital transportation asset that enables Michigan businesses to have access to world markets. By amending Part 31 of NREPA so that Michigan’s ballast water discharge requirements reflect the EPA’s Vessel General Permit, House Bill 5095 would level the playing field and encourage business and jobs to come back to Michigan while still protecting the Great Lakes. I appreciate your consideration and support for this positive step in Michigan’s competitiveness.

Sincerely,

Jason Puscas

Director, Government Relations, Detroit Regional Chamber