New United States ballast water management regulations discriminate against Canadian shipowners using the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, say Canadian maritime industry activists and members of the Canadian Parliament who are reaching out to the Obama administration seeking regulatory relief.
Canadian Member of Parliament Gord Brown (C-Leeds Grenville, ON), the co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Inter-parliamentary Group, has been generating support from some of his counterparts in the U.S. Congress for changes to the restrictions recently put in place by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Eleven Members of Congress recently signed a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concerns that the new ballast water regulations "may have a negative impact on the Great Lakes economy."
The letter also says ballast water regulatoins should "treat U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes fleets fairly" and be "practical and technologically feasible."
At the heart of the issue is an exemption offered by the EPA to vessels built before 2009 which only operate west of Anticosti Island, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. The exemption effectively exempts the US-flag fleet while applying the new rules to much of the Canadian fleet and other foreign vessels.
"The Canadian fleet is the one that is going to be most affected," says Brown.
For its part, the government of Canada is said to be considering stricter ballast water regulations that would apply to all vessels, including the US-flag fleet, as a last resort.