Judge rules EPA must regulate ballast water, control invasive species

In a court decision called “a slam dunk for healthy oceans” by the Ocean Conservancy’s Sarah Newkirk, a federal judge ruled last week that the U.S. EPA must regulate ballast water carried by ships entering U.S. waters. The ruling reverses the agency’s exemption of ballast water under the Clean Water Act and labels the water — carried from a ship’s port of origin to maintain stability and then released after it reaches its destination, often along with foreign species — a pollutant. Green groups, including the Ocean Conservancy and four others that petitioned the EPA in 1999 to reverse the exemption and then sued in 2003 when the agency refused, praised the decision, saying it would help promote technology and programs aimed at controlling invasive species, a threat that costs coastal areas billions of dollars in damage every year.