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Sensible water discharge policy waiting for Congress to act

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On April 26, 1607 Captain Christopher Newport and the Virginia Company colonists first set foot on Virginia’s shore just west of Cape Henry, at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Soon afterwards, these men and women established Jamestown and our incredible history began. Since then, Virginia has been a maritime leader.
The movement of goods and people on Virginia’s navigable waterways helped lay the foundation for America’s identity as its own nation with its own economy. And since then our rivers and coastal areas have served both as a hub of critical economic activity and as a major component of our national defense. Indeed, our port is a major part of our state’s economic infrastructure.
I support sensible and reasonable standards for the protection of the marine environment. I helped found and continue to serve on the Board of Directors of the Occoquan Watershed Coalition in Fairfax County. The purpose of the OWC is to protect and maintain the viability of the Occoquan Watershed environment, which guides water into the Chesapeake Bay, and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean, via the Occoquan River.
That’s why I am concerned about what the U.S. Senate will do when it soon examines the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), which deals with the cumbersome and confusing patchwork of federal and state vessel discharge regulations. VIDA wants to create a single, environmentally stringent federal standard for ballast water and other vessel discharges. VIDA is critical for maintaining Virginia’s leadership in maritime commerce and setting a high bar for protecting the quality of the marine environment on which that activity depends. It will replace a hodge-podge of regulations that differ from state to state and causes huge problems to our maritime industry.
As President of the nonpartisan Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, I’ve had the privilege to witness firsthand the commitment, focus, and determination that Virginia’s congressional delegation, from both sides of the political aisle, have in supporting sound public policy for the benefit of our state’s economy. Both Senators, during their tenures as Governor, demonstrated a steadfast commitment to our state and worked to position Virginia as an economic powerhouse. These U.S. Senators have the opportunity to ensure that Virginia benefits from the sound solution VIDA offers to the current regulatory maze which has hampers economic and environmental improvement. In so doing, they will reaffirm their commitment to the state’s maritime commerce and protect Virginia’s marine environment.
The Thomas Jefferson Institute has worked side-by-side with Virginia’s State and Federal elected officials to provide Virginia’s political, business, academic, community and media leadership with thoughtful, realistic, useful and non-partisan analysis of public policy issues. Under Republican and Democrat Administrations, we’ve remained committed to ensuring that government legislation, regulations, and policies encourage economic growth and job creation while promoting a dynamic and vibrant Virginia economy and protecting our environment.
The balanced, commonsense approach that VIDA takes to drastically improving the efficiency of maritime commerce while maintaining the highest standards for marine environmental protection has earned this legislation a diverse range of supporters. This support includes marine terminals and port authorities, vessel owners and operators, labor unions, national business organizations, and industries that rely on efficient maritime shipping operations to transport vital cargoes throughout our nation. VIDA’s clear benefits for our economy and the environment have also earned it support from both sides of the aisle in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives – a rare distinction in an increasingly polarized Washington, D.C.
VIDA is sensible policy that strikes the right balance between protecting the environment and ensuring a regulatory framework that allows functioning waterway navigation. Hopefully, Senators Warner and Kaine will support VIDA so that our maritime industry can better continue to grow and prosper. Virginia’s maritime legacy needs their support.
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