Senate blocks bill that opponents say weakens water pollution rules

Senate blocks bill that opponents say weakens water pollution rules
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The Senate blocked legislation on Wednesday that environmentalists and opponents argue would weaken water pollution standards.

Senators voted 56-42, depriving the legislation of the 60 votes it needed to move forward.

Democratic Sens. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyAction by Congress is needed to help victims of domestic violence Poll: Casey holds double-digit lead over Barletta in Pa. Senate race Ivanka Trump to press Senate on vocational training bill MORE (Pa.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral Actress Marcia Gay Harden urges Congress to boost Alzheimer's funding MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Heitkamp ad highlights record as Senate race heats up Supreme Court rules states can require online sellers to collect sales tax MORE (N.D.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinManchin used Heimlich manuever on McCaskill during caucus luncheon The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Trump caves under immense pressure — what now? Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillManchin used Heimlich manuever on McCaskill during caucus luncheon Nail manufacturing exec who voted for Trump blames him for layoffs, asks Democrat for help The American economy is stronger than ever six months after tax cuts MORE (Mo.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Rubio heckled by protestors outside immigration detention facility Obstacles to Trump's 'Space Force' could keep proposal grounded for now MORE (Fla.) voted with Republicans to advance the bill. Everyone, besides Jones, is up for reelection in a state won by Trump in 2016.

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The bill included a version of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), which would exempt ships’ ballast water from Clean Water Act oversight under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and stop most states’ attempts to regulate ballast water.

Ballast water has been blamed for some of the worst invasive species cases, like zebra mussels in the Great Lakes and the introduction of various algae species to waterways.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive things to know about efforts to repeal Obama's water rule Mulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Senate left in limbo by Trump tweets, House delays MORE (R-Ky.) praised the bill, saying it would help overcome "duplicative regulations enforced by the Coast Guard, the EPA and the states."

"This inefficient regulatory regime unnecessarily raises costs and jeopardizes jobs. Our provision ... would clean up that mess and make life easier for American mariners while still protecting our environment," he said.

But environmentalists say removing the EPA’s authority — and leaving the regulation of ballast water solely to the Coast Guard — would remove important water protections.

“VIDA moves us away from the responsible management of ballast water discharges by completely removing Clean Water Act authority over ship ballast water discharges,” a coalition of green groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and American Rivers, wrote to senators last week.