Posted October 24, 2013
The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arguing the EPA has failed to address ocean acidification that is threatening oysters and other sea life off the coast of Washington and Oregon, according to a King 5 News article available here.
The same group sued the EPA over ocean acidification in 2009, but the case was settled in 2010 after the EPA agreed that ocean acidification should be addressed under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Information on the settlement is available here.
Acidification is caused when oceans absorb human-generated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, nutrient runoff, and other sources.
In early 2012, scientists from Oregon State University reported “ocean acidification caused oyster larvae to die in 2005” at Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Netarts Bay. Other researchers have documented the impact of ocean acidification on other sea life throughout the food chain.
Miyoko Sakashita, of the Center for Biological Diversity, said the EPA is not doing enough to protect the ocean ecosystem. Sakashita said, “They haven’t taken action. We’re really concerned…Now it’s the oysters, but it really affects the entire ecosystem from the smallest plankton to the biggest whale.”
Under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, states are required to develop a list of “impaired waters.” These “impaired waters” do not meet the water quality standards the states have set for them, even after point sources of pollution have installed the minimum required levels of pollution control technology. Section 303(d) requires those jurisdictions to establish a priority ranking for waters on the lists and develop a TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) for the water body.
For more information on the Clean Water Act, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.