LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Despite opposition from environmentalists, the U.S. House is moving ahead with legislation proposing a national standard for cleansing ballast water from foreign ships.

Many ships have multiple ballast tanks typically on either side of the vessel. Ships designed for carrying large amounts of cargo can fill their  ballast tanks with water for proper stability when travelling with light loads and discharge water when heavily laden with cargo.

Invasive species like zebra mussels, which threaten the Great Lakes, get here by way of ballast water from ocean-going vessels.

A maritime transportation bill being debated by the House would limit the number of live organisms in ballast water.

But, environmentalists say the limits aren’t tough enough, adding that the shipping industry is watering down the bill because the technology needed to cleanse ballast water is expensive.

The shipping industry says the limits environmentalists are longing for are not technologically possible at the time.

The measure calls for a set of federal regulations and prohibits states from establishing their own standards.

Republicans shot down a Democratic proposal to debate ballast water provisions and a vote on the full bill is expected later this month.

On Friday, the Republican-led House rejected a Democratic proposal to delete the ballast water provisions.

A vote on the entire bill is expected later this month.



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