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New Ballast Water Regulations for NY to Cost Canada Billions, and Threatens Thousands of Jobs

Published Oct 21, 2011 2:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

This week New York state officials announced that they will be implementing stringent ballast water treatment standards for all vessels crossing the St. Lawrence, which according to a new study will put 72,000 jobs and $10.7 billion on both borders at serious risk. 

While the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway already possesses some of the strictest regulations when it comes to the prevention of invasive species via ballast water, New York is going to require that all ships transiting through its waters to install equipment that will sterilize ballast water to a standard 100 to 1,000 times the current international standards.  The legislation says that the ships must have the equipment installed for 100 times international standard by August 1st, 2013, and 1,000 times standard by August 1st, 2014.

Scientists and shipping industry are both left appalled, as the regulations would nearly choke all trade between the passages.   Executives of the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., the U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. and various shipping firms have said that this type of regulation is impossible to meet.  A study by Martin Associates, an economic consulting firm in Michigan, says the legislation would slash about 72,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada.   Chief executive of Montreal based CSL said that technology for systems proposed by NY state doesn’t even exist anywhere across the globe.  According to the study, they postulate that Quebec and Ontario would be affected the most, and would account for 55,000 of those lost jobs, and approximately $8.5 billion in revenue.  The U.S. would face to lose 17,000 jobs and $2.2 billion. 

NY authorities have fired back at allegations that the technology doesn’t exist saying that the Department determined ballast water treatment technology capable of meeting the stated discharge criteria is developed, adding that the treatment technology is advancing rapidly.  The statement added that there is adequate time for these installations to take place in order to meet the standards.  According to the Montreal Gazette, a spokesperson for New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation said that California and Michigan have both adopted even more stringent regulations than New York. 

Canadians are outraged over the regulations because this wouldn’t only affect trade between Canada and NY, but it would also intrude on inter-provincial commerce between Montreal to Toronto.  Officials believe this is an infringement on Canadian sovereignty. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, 160 million metric tons of cargo is being transported each year on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway.  Previous studies by Grand Valley State University found that cutting off shipping on the Great Lakes would increase transportation costs in the region by $54.9 million annually. --MarEx