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Balance Needed on Ballast Issue to Protect Jobs

By Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine

This past week I was invited to attend a press conference at the Oswego Port Authority to discuss a Department of Environmental Conservation action intended to eliminate invasive species, but which instead threatens to shut down shipping through the St. Lawrence Seaway and into the Great Lakes.

The intent of this DEC action is commendable. Invasive species are a serious issue facing our waterways. Be it round gobies or zebra mussels, these non-native species represent a threat to our economy on the water, particularly the tourism and fishing industries. After hosting a public hearing in 2007 in Clayton, I sponsored legislation as an Assemblyman to address this issue and firmly believe we need to take all reasonable steps to eliminate the introduction of invasive species.

My concern is the impact on our economy and jobs that this action could have by drastically reducing the amount of commerce that comes through our communities along the Seaway into the Ports of Ogdensburg and Oswego. My number one priority as our representative is our economy from agriculture to tourism and everything in between. We need to protect the jobs we have and give our businesses the opportunity to create new jobs.

However, protecting one industry from this threat should not be done by shutting down commerce on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Other states have similar concerns about invasives, but have not imposed these same regulations on such an aggressive time frame. Every ship that comes through and off loads or on loads cargo at our ports supports jobs and standards included in this action of 100 times International Maritime Organization standards by 2012 and 1,000 times the IMO standards by 2013 are unworkable based on current technology.

All industries and the jobs both at our two major ports and with the businesses that have direct connections to the products brought in on these vessels would be negatively affected by this action. It applies to ships whether or not they discharge ballast water at a time when the technology isn’t available to meet these standards. The alternative to shipping through the Seaway would be to have these ships stop at New York Harbor and load hundreds of thousands of tractor trailers to ship across the state, increasing the amount of environmentally hazardous emissions.

We should be working to achieve these standards. I firmly believe that. However, we need to strike a balance that allows us to preserve our environment, protect our jobs and grow our economy. Our ports are important to our economic future. I have worked to secure for the Oswego Port Authority a $1.75 million grant to rehabilitate and reconstruct a section of pier. Likewise, I worked to secure for the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority $1.2 million for its access road project and another $2.7 million to make improvements to the rail system.

These projects need to have the opportunity to bear fruit for our local economy without imposing an action that undermines their ability to do business. We cannot afford to have the DEC over regulate to threaten the jobs we need and depend on in our region and across this state. What we need here is to work together and have all sides come to an agreement that will accomplish the goal of shutting down the introduction of invasive species without shutting down our ports. This will help us to protect jobs on two fronts and allow our economy to grow.

1 Comment

  1. The Federal government is not engaged with creating national ballast legislation, and is allowing the states to compete with one another while dealing with an international organization of foreign economic interest.(economic globalization over economic Americanization) To say the IMO is adequate protection is not remembering that 10,000 died in the 1990’s from cholera in South America related to IMO sea captains not following procedures with the costly, time consuming, dangerous, inadequate ocean flush.
    One reason to insist on a time line is because of industries bottom line, as industry will never spend the investment to create technology unless forced.
    Another reason to insist on technology for Great Lakes locked ships, that is rarely talked about with ballast water, is the human bacterial and virus problems
    It seems findings by the government in studies show bird flue, h1n1, and a host of other influenza’s are found in fresh water lakes and glaciers in the Arctic where new shipping routes are opening as the ice melts, and are carried by birds to other waters around the world. Ballast water should not help to facilitate this. According to a report for Congress in Dec 2009 that states that national policy would affect mainly foreign ships bringing foreign imports into our country and would cause them to rise in cost. Gee!! this may make America more cost competitive. It is time for us to face this threat from mainly foreign economic interest (China). Yes this may cause “change” and economic hardship to some, but the long term future prosperity and health of all Americans and our environment should be our primary concern. NY state wasted much money in creating ballast water laws, if the state is already going to grant passes to foreign ships because of lack technology to meet their requirements, and if thay are now willing to wait a idefinete period for technology developement, all we have is, a lot of money wasted so politicians could look as though they tried to do something. The President has ask our governor to step aside in mid term election after creating these regulations, you can only wonder if the next governor of NY will accept whatever weak coast guard plan comes up, and do away with NY ballast water requirements in the presidential election year of 2012 so this administrations recovery on the coat tails of a communist country can continue. Senator Schumer and Nobel prize economist MR. Krugman have both called for tariffs,
    the following report for Congress in DEC 2009 that explains that national ballast water legislation would do the same thing as tariffs, plus protect our environment from the carbon footprint and dirty water trail of foreign ships bringing foreign manufactured imports into our country, stealing jobs from Americans. “Although estimates of the costs of ballast treatment may be imprecise and vary from vessel to
    vessel, there is some general agreement on average costs.14 For example, it may cost an estimated $400,000 per vessel for modification of container/bulk vessels to use onshore ballast water treatment facilities at California ports. More generally, the cost of retrofitting vessels to treat
    ballast water has been estimated at between $200,000 and $310,000 per vessel for mechanical
    treatment and around $300,000 for chemical treatment.15 Most of this expense will be borne by
    foreign shipping companies, as the U.S. flag fleet is a small percentage of the global fleet,16 and
    likely passed along to consumers of products imported on these ships.”

    Currently all we have from this administration is a Military plan, giving incentives to foreign ships bring foreign manufactured goods into our country if they want to install technology to protect our environment. This is while Americans are out of work, forcing the states, without an infrastructure for enforcement into expensive legislative competition with each other while dealing with an international organization of primarily foreign economic interest. (IMO) Sadly after the historic vote by the House in 2008,(passed 395-7), was killed in 2008 while the top three officials in this administration were Senators, this administration has again promoted the grandiose plan of economic globalization over economic Americanization as a way to create jobs, by not instructing the Senate to work out one Senators issues over the House, historic request for American law leaving the states to fend for themselves. In the 1990’s as they began creating new trade treaties promoting economic globalization as the answer for Americas future, environmentalist were not happy with President Clinton and the delegation under the clean water act and the EPA for ballast water. They new then this only circumvented the problem on behalf foreign shipping. Now two decades later we have become a nation were are largest employers employ mainly store clerks selling foreign made products. Senator Boxer’s only alternative after killing national ballast water legislation in 2008 was again to try and place, ballast water control under the Clean Water Act and the EPA . Obviously there can be no enforcement this way, as even during the Gulf disaster, despite repeated warnings to this administration about ballast systems moving substances released from ocean development, they allowed ships to move tar balls into Lake Pontchartrain. This warning was even posted on our Presidents Ocean Initiatives web site. This administration has promoted the idea that limiting US carbon emission, negotiating carbon emission and currency manipulation with a communist country, while facilitating destruction of our waters and atmosphere by foreign ships with a pass, as a way to create spill over jobs for America from foreign communist country. STRONG NATIONAL BALLAST WATER LEGISLATION MANDATING INSTALATION OF TECHNOLOGY WOULD CREATE LONG TERM JOBS, and reduce the economic competition between all our countries ports, to recieve foreign imports. The lack of National Ballast Water Legislation, shows that the current plan for economic globalization, has taken away America’s freedom to govern, and enact the type of protections the largest elected voice of the people have ask for, because of economic domination.

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