Legal Settlement Will Require EPA to Evaluate How to Regulate Ocean Acidification Under Clean Water Act

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Miyoko Sakashita, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 632-5308

Legal Settlement Will Require EPA to Evaluate How to Regulate Ocean Acidification Under Clean Water Act

SAN FRANCISCO - The
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to consider how states can
address ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act. The settlement responds
to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity that challenged
EPA's failure to recognize the impacts of acidification on coastal waters off
the state of Washington. The suit, brought under the Clean
Water Act, was the first to address ocean acidification.

"This
settlement marks a crucial step toward combating ocean acidification with our
nation's strongest water-quality law, the Clean Water Act," said Miyoko
Sakashita, oceans director at the Center. "We already have the legal tools we
need to limit ocean acidification, and the Clean Water Act has a history of
success reducing pollution."

Ocean
acidification, the "other carbon dioxide problem," results from the ocean's
absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere,
which increases the acidity of the ocean and changes the chemistry of seawater.
The primary known consequence of ocean acidification is that it impairs the
ability of marine animals to build and maintain the protective shells and
skeletons they need to survive. Nearly every marine animal studied to date has
experienced adverse effects due to acidification.

"Ocean
acidification is global warming's evil twin, and CO2 pollution is one of the biggest threats to
our marine environment," said Sakashita. "We need prompt action to curb CO2 emissions to avoid the worst consequences
of acidification."

According to
the settlement, EPA will initiate a public process for the EPA to develop
guidance on how to approach acidification under the federal Clean Water Act.
Specifically, EPA will consider a provision of the Act that requires states to
identify threatened or impaired waters and set limits on the input of pollutants
into these waters.

Scientists
have confirmed widespread ocean acidification due to CO2 pollution. A survey off the West Coast of
the United
States showed that waters affected by ocean
acidification are already upwelling onto the continental shelf and exposing
marine life in surface waters to corrosive conditions. The Arctic also faces
imminent consequences, and areas of the Arctic
are expected to become corrosive by 2016.

On March 15,
EPA will submit for publication in the Federal Register a notice soliciting
public comments on how to evaluate waters threatened by acidification and
address the problem. The Center is represented in the suit by Chris Winter of
Crag
Law Center.

For more
information, click here.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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