2017-05-18 National Governors Association

Vessel Incidental Discharge

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
U.S. Capitol Building, Room S-230
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
U.S. Capitol Building, Room S-221
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable John Thune
Chairman
Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Bill Nelson
Ranking Member
Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leaders McConnell and Schumer, Chairman Thune, and Ranking Member Nelson:

On behalf of the nation’s Governors, we write to express our concerns with the effort in Congress to preempt state authority to protect state waters contained in S.168, the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA). While governors acknowledge industry concerns regarding the development of a consistent, streamlined national regulatory framework governing vessel discharges, we request that any statutory changes be developed in partnership and respect state’s role in protecting water quality.

States have actively tailored invasive species and water quality management programs to suit unique regional and local conditions. As written, VIDA would force states to enforce only existing federal laws regarding the discharge of ballast water, in many cases dramatically weakening or altogether removing the robust protections offered by state laws against the introduction of invasive species and water pollution. Recognizing the importance of maritime commerce and Congress’ interest in ensuring regulatory certainty for a wide range of vessels, Governors encourage consultation with all stakeholders to develop legislation that respects state authority in protecting state waters from aquatic invasive species and water pollution while improving the current federal regulatory system.

Governors recognize the importance of the state and federal partnership in developing and implementing environmental protections for our aquatic resources. We look forward to working together.

 

Sincerely,

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., California
Chair, Natural Resources Committee

Governor Matthew H. Mead, Wyoming
Vice Chair, Natural Resource Committee