The majority of people we come into contact with don't have answers to those questions, and for many the topic isn't even remotely on their radar screen. For the trade, logistics and shipping industries, the subject of ballast water is central to their existence.
Simply put, ballast water is fresh or salts water that is held in tanks and cargo holds of ships to increase stability and maneuverability during transit. Since the water generally comes from one body of water and is released in another, there are understandably environmental issues of concern in ballast discharge. As a result, strict regulations have been placed on ballast discharge throughout the Great Lakes region - with no regulations more strict than New York's. Our state's regulations, established in 2008, were so strict that the shipping industry consistently pointed out that the technology to meet the restrictions has not even been invented yet.
For the past several years, the Partnership and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition have lobbied for New York to adopt a federal standard for regulating ballast water discharge. The state-by-state approach to regulating the shipping industry has been a tremendous hindrance to Great Lakes shipping and commerce, and New York since 2008 has received tremendous pressure from other states in the region and from Canada - New York's policy applied to ships traveling through our waters toward ports in other states. As a result, the Partnership pushed for change in New York's ballast water regulations to be a key policy request in the WNY Regional Council's five-year plan.
Credit to Governor Cuomo, he listened. Today we received word that the New York's Department of Environmental Conservation would at least for the time being be relaxing its aggressive policy stance on ballast water to the achievable federal standard. This is a huge victory for the Great Lakes economy, and we appreciate the Governor's leadership on the issue - as well as Senator Mark Grisanti's.
This is also a big victory, if not the most glamorous, for our advocacy team! Serving on a coalition of chambers of commerce from throughout the Great Lakes region, we've taken a beating (even if it's always been good-natured ribbing over dinner, we knew there was truth to it) over New York being the stickler on the issue. We're especially proud to bring this one home.