Durbin Applauds Senate Passage Of Bill To Improve Oil Spill Response In Great Lakes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today applauded passage of a bill that directs the Coast Guard to establish a Center of Expertise for Great Lakes Oil Spill Research and Response, which will monitor, assess, and train first responders on freshwater oil spill response in the Great Lakes. The provision was included in the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill, which passed the Senate today.

“Protecting the Great Lakes is critically important to Illinois’ future, and this bill will help ensure our first responders can be adequately trained to prevent and respond to oil spill disasters in the Great Lakes.  I’ve also worked to protect the Great Lakes from harmful vessel discharges for many years and am pleased this bill will empower the EPA to set stronger standards for incidental discharges by vessels traveling on the Lakes,” Durbin said.  

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the lead role in establishing national standards for incidental vessel discharges (including ballast water) under the Clean Water Act, and gives the Coast Guard the lead in monitoring and enforcing compliance of EPA’s standards.  It also ensures that the EPA will not interfere with the safe operation of ships.  The bill also establishes a Great Lakes Invasive Species Monitoring Program at EPA and grandfathers existing state laws assessing fees for vessel inspections.