Few federal issues have more potential impact on the maritime industry than the recent controversies regarding the regulation of discharges from vessels. The Clean Water Act (CWA), the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States, established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into U.S. waters. For over thirty years there has been an exemption from the Act for ballast water and other vessel discharges. But a recent court ruling called this exemption into question and it may expire as early as September 30, 2008. As a result on June 21, 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was taking the first steps toward developing a program that would require permits under the CWA for the discharge of pollutants incidental to the normal operation of vessels, including cargo vessels, tankers, and cruise ships. At the same time, Congress is actively considering legislation to impose very stringent ballast water discharge requirements on vessels – far more stringent than the current IMO standards. Also, citizen groups are threatening to sue vessel operations for not having CWA permits to discharge ballast water.
This presentation will explain these developing events and help operators understand and begin to plan for these uncertainties.
- Mark Ruge, Partner, K&L Gates, moderator
- Barry Hartman, Partner, K&L Gates
- John Cullather, Staff Director, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
- Amy Fraenkel, Staff Director, Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee, Senate Commerce Committee