July 8, 2009

Mussels, pythons dominate Senate meeting

U.S. senators from Michigan and other states are urging the Senate to consider tougher federal regulations on invasive species such as the zebra mussel.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told a hearing of two subcommittees of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that legislation is required to keep zebra mussels and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes, the Detroit News reported Wednesday.

Levin said the mollusks are believed to have entered the Great Lakes through ship ballast water from the Black and Caspian seas. Zebra mussels have been blamed for the ruination of habitats in the lakes and polluting city water systems.

The senator called for federal regulations that would require ships to destroy organisms spread by ballast water.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told the meeting Burmese pythons that were imported as pets have spread through the Florida Everglades and are threatening native species, including humans, the News reported. Nelson said the snakes, unless controlled, could spread throughout the Southeastern part of the country.