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Group Sues EPA To Address Ocean Acidification Under Clean Water Act

Oct. 16, 2013 | KUOW
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Ashley Ahearn

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  • An environmental group is suing the EPA to address ocean acidification as part of the Clean Water Act. Acidifying waters are harmful to shellfish, a big industry in the Northwest. credit: Katie Campbell
An environmental group is suing the EPA to address ocean acidification as part of the Clean Water Act. Acidifying waters are harmful to shellfish, a big industry in the Northwest. | credit: Katie Campbell | rollover image for more

The Environmental Protection Agency may be closed for business at the moment due to the government shut down, but that hasn’t prevented one group from suing them.

The Center for Biological Diversity wants the EPA to address ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act. The environmental group filed a lawsuit against the EPA calling on them to do something about the acidifying waters of the Northwest.

The ocean absorbs millions of tons of greenhouse gases every day. Those gases are lowering the ocean’s pH and causing problems for shellfish and other creatures. Under the Clean Water Act a water body can be declared “impaired” if it is too acidic. And once a waterbody is designated “impaired” it falls on the EPA to regulate the source of that pollution. In this case — CO2 emissions.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a similar lawsuit in 2009. Back then, the EPA agreed with the center and determined that it should address acidification under the Clean Water Act.

But the environmental group says the EPA has not taken the necessary actions since then.

Regulating greenhouse gas emissions has been a priority for the Obama administration but the EPA has been met with legal opposition in its attempts to regulate those emissions under the Clean Air Act.

A new study released today looks at the impacts of climate change on the world’s ocean systems and concludes that by the year 2100, about 98 percent of the oceans will be affected by acidification, warming temperatures, low oxygen, or lack of biological productivity.

“When you look at overlapping stressors, the Northern Hemisphere appears to be in real trouble,” said Andrew Thurber, an Oregon State University oceanographer and co-author on the study. “The same grim outlook is apparent for the strong upwelling zones off Chile and southern Africa. Another ‘red spot’ is the Pacific Northwest of the United States, which already is seeing the impact of low oxygen and rising acidification.”

© 2013 KUOW
environment Clean Water Act EPA ocean acidification climate change Center For Biological Diversity
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