Senate OKs Coast Guard bill with ballast water compromise

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Senate has approved a new policy on ships that dump ballast water in coastal ports and the Great Lakes, a practice blamed for spreading invasive species that damage the environment and the economy.

The ballast plan is contained in a $10.6 billion Coast Guard budget authorization bill passed Wednesday. It now goes to the House for consideration.

Environmentalists and the shipping industry have battled for years over regulation of ballast water, which keeps ships upright in rough seas.

Under the bill, the Environmental Protection Agency would continue setting rules requiring ships to treat ballast water before it’s discharged. The Coast Guard would enforce them.

States could not set regulations tougher than those on the federal level. But Great Lakes regional standards could be established if enough states agree.