A draft version of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Vessel General Permit (VGP) will be issued “sometime in early July at the earliest,” BWTT has learned. It is due to replace the current version of the VGP which came into force in 2013 and is due to expire on 18 December.
A draft had originally been scheduled to be published in mid-2017 and the reason for the delay has not been made clear. Team leader of the Water Permits Division, US EPA, Jack Faulk, acknowledged to BWTT on Tuesday (24 April) that the EPA is “behind schedule in drafting the next permit so those estimates of the draft permit being available in late 2017 did not come true.”
In a webinar in late 2016, the EPA had advised that it was then gathering information and intended to publish a draft by Q3 2017 but said that it might slip to late 2017.
Once the draft is published it will be open for comments but “we have been informally telling folks that if they have thoughts [or] comments they would like for us to consider when drafting the next permit, they are free to do so,” Mr Faulk said.
The 194-page VGP regulates discharges from vessels, including ballast water. In October 2015 environmental groups challenged the EPA in the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, which ruled that the agency had acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in setting the VGP’s terms. It ordered the EPA to issue a new VGP but did not set a deadline and the EPA decided to keep it in force unchanged until it became due for renewal. Its new version must take account of that ruling.
• Details of the current VGP can be found on the EPA website