Issues & Advocacy

Vessel Discharges

The water that mariners use and discharge while living and working aboard their vessels – including ballast water, which vessels carry for stabilization – is critical to vessel operations. Currently, commercial vessel owners and operators contend with overlapping and inconsistent regulations for vessel discharges that are administered by two federal agencies (the U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency) and more than two dozen states. This patchwork of requirements makes compliance confusing and costly for the vast majority of industry members.
AWO supports congressional enactment of a uniform national standard for ballast water and other vessel discharges. The consistent national promulgation of a single, rigorous standard for ballast water discharges would establish a high benchmark for environmental protection and give vessel owners across the country the certainty they need to invest in effective, commercially available ballast water treatment technologies. Click here to read AWO's testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives.

AWO is engaged in an all-out push to finish the work of the 115th Congress by enacting S. 168/HR 1154, the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (CVIDA), in 2018. S. 168/HR 1154 is the U.S. maritime industry’s highest legislative priority in 2018. This bipartisan bill would establish a uniform federal framework for the regulation of ballast water and other vessel discharges. Enactment of CVIDA would:
  • Establish a clear and consistent regulatory framework for commercial vessel owners
  • Place the U.S. Coast Guard as the single agency in charge of enforcing ballast water and vessel discharge regulations, placing ports and vessels fully under the aegis of the Coast Guard’s highly effective Port State Control program
  • Retains the Environmental Protection Agency’s role as science advisor, allowing the agency to collect data and develop the scientific rationale for the development of future vessel discharge standards
  • Allow owners to confidently make investments in new, environmentally protective ballast water treatment technologies for commercial vessels
  • Avoids a potential unfunded mandate that would force ports and terminal operators to install costly and impractical onshore treatment equipment
In 2017, CVIDA was reintroduced as S.168 by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Robert Casey (D-PA). The bill was favorably reported to the full Senate by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation with strong bipartisan support. The House bill, H.R. 1154, was reintroduced by Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

For more information, click here.