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 CaseySenate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations Advocates call for ObamaCare open enrollment extension after website glitches The US needs to lead again on disability rights MORE (Pa.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyGinsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle Watchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSusan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (N.D.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillHow Citizens United altered America's political landscape #MidnightMoscowMitch trends amid criticism of McConnell's proposed impeachment trial rules The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (Mo.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum No. 2 GOP leader eyes Wednesday of next week for possible votes on witnesses 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.