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Environmental group sues NY over ballast rules

ALBANY — The National Wildlife Federation sued New York state officials on Thursday for backing off on tough regulations to rid ship ballast water of invasive species that threaten the Great Lakes, the Hudson River and Long Island Sound.

The rules would have required cargo vessels to cleanse ballast water to a level at least 100 times stricter than Environmental Protection Agency standards. Environmentalists and New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation have said the EPA standards are inadequate to protect against invasive species that could be introduced when ballast water is discharged prior to loading cargo.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in February that the state will work for stronger national limits rather than proceeding with the tougher requirements. DEC had no immediate comment on the lawsuit filed Thursday in state supreme court in Albany.

Shippers have said the New York rules would effectively shut down international shipping in the Great Lakes since all international cargo ships must pass through New York waters to reach the lakes. Traffic at the busy Port of New York and New Jersey also would be affected.