Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2008 passed by House of Representatives

On April 24, the House passed the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 2830) by a vote of 395 to 7. Strong bipartisan support for the legislation followed the adoption of two amendments. The first, a manager's amendment, improves transparency by requiring that regulated ships submit records of their actions to the Secretary of Transportation on a monthly basis, and ensures that ships claiming no ballast on board (NOBOBs) will be required to conduct saltwater flushing. A second amendment by Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) gives the Coast Guard the authority to take emergency response measures if vessels operating exclusively within the Great Lakes present the risk of spreading invasive species or infectious diseases. H.R. 2830 also requires that in 2009 shippers must begin installing ballast water treatment systems that meet an interim standard in vessels that enter U.S. waters. All ships will be required to have ballast technology on board by 2014. Water quality standards for the treated ballast water will be ten times more stringent than international standards that are set to take effect in 2015. Additionally, the bill allows states to retain their ability to complement and strengthen the federal program. For more information: http://thomas.loc.gov/.

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