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US Representative Elise Stefanik discussing federal efforts to combat aquatic invasive species in Lake George last summer

US Representative Elise Stefanik discussing federal efforts to combat aquatic invasive species in Lake George last summer

Stefanik: Federal Legislation Amended to Protect Adirondack Waters From Invasive Species

By Anthony F. Hall

Monday, February 20, 2017

A federal defense bill that included a provision that would have eviscerated the protection of American waters from invasive species, drawing, not surprisingly, sharp rebukes from New York green groups, has been amended, US Representative Elise Stefanik has announced.

According to Stefanik’s office, that provision, known as the the “Vessel Incidental Discharge Act or VIDA, was removed from the bill at the direction of the Congresswoman and some of her colleagues before a final version was sent to the desk of President Obama for his approval.

“I was proud to lead the effort to remove this language from the final National Defense Authorization Act that was passed and signed into law,” said Stefanik, who represents Lake George and much of northern New York in Congress.

The language referred to by Stefanik would have stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to limit the discharge of ships’ ballast water into bodies such as the Great Lakes, a point of entry for many invasive species.

“New York is the epicenter of invasive species and it’s critical that we prevent the spread of these ecological predators. The language of this amendment would have… led to a greater threat of invasive species in our waters, including the St. Lawrence River, Lake George, and other Adirondack bodies of water,” said Stefanik.

While Stefanik voted for the version of the National Defense Authorization Act that came before the House of Representatives last summer, she was opposed to that particular provision, her spokesman said.

“Stefanik actually offered an amendment to the bill that would have removed the VIDA language when the legislation came to the House floor, but unfortunately, it was ruled out of order by the Rules Committee,” said Tom Flanagin, the spokesman,

According to Flanagin, Stefanik began working immediately with her colleagues in the House and their counterparts in the Senate to strike the language from the bill. Stefanik’s version was ultimately approved by both houses and sent to the President for his signature.

Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, said Stefanik’s work was appreciated.

“Invasive species are ecological terrorists and New York is their main way into the United States from anywhere in the world. Only by treating the problem this seriously, can we win the war against them. Success not only demands strongest possible prevention, like we now have at Lake George, but targeted preemption, stopping invasive species before they reach our shores,” said Siy.

Stefanik’s efforts to combat invasive species have apparently been recognized by the House leadership.

According to Flanagin, she has been tapped to be Co-Chair of the Invasive Species Caucus in the House of Representatives.

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