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 CaseyDemocratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees Abortion rights groups want Biden to use bully pulpit after Texas law Overnight Health Care: Democrats plot response to Texas abortion law MORE (Pa.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sanders traveling to Iowa, Indiana to pitch Biden's spending package Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampProgressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight Business groups aim to divide Democrats on .5T spending bill On The Money: Powell signals Fed will soon cut stimulus MORE (N.D.), Doug Jones (Ala.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE (W.Va.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Giuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri MORE (Mo.) and Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonHow will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? Biden to talk Russia, anti-corruption with Ukraine's president Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos wages lawfare on NASA and SpaceX 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 McConnellLindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' 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.