Environmental protection agency


Environmental Protection Agency

The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.

EPA's purpose is to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society -- communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments -- have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
  • the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

Vessel Discharges
EPA's NPDES vessels program regulates incidental discharges from the normal operation of vessels. The NPDES vessels program does not regulate discharges from military vessels or recreational vessels. Instead, those are regulated by other EPA programs under section 312 of the Clean Water Act Incidental discharges from the normal operation of vessels include, but are not limited to, ballast water, bilgewater, graywater (e.g., water from sinks, showers), and anti-foulant paints (and their leachate). These discharges may result in negative environmental impacts via the addition of traditional pollutants or, in some cases, by contributing to the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species.

The centerpiece of the NPDES vessels program is the Vessel General Permit, also known as the VGP. Additionally, several research studies have been led or sponsored by the Vessel Program. Additional information discussing the vessel program's activities follows on the pages below.

EPA released a new draft Vessel General Permit on November 30, 2011. In addition, EPA released the draft the Small Vessel General Permit, a simpler, shorter permit to provide coverage for smaller vessels if they need it after December 19, 2013. More information.

NPDES Permit Program
EPA's national Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program plays an important role in minimizing the wastes and pollution load released into receiving bodies. Find basic information on the major features and elements of the NPDES permit program.

Useful Links to Ballast Water Information


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