EPA Solicits Input on Ocean Acidification and Carbon Dioxide Limits Under Water Pollution Law

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

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

EPA Solicits Input on Ocean Acidification and Carbon Dioxide Limits Under Water Pollution Law

SAN FRANCISCO - The Environmental Protection Agency launched an effort today seeking
public input on how to address ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act.
The notice,
published in the Federal Register, comes in response to a settlement of a
lawsuit concerning ocean acidification brought by the Center for Biological
Diversity.

"Today's
action by EPA marks the first step toward creating limits on CO2
pollution causing ocean acidification," said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director
at the Center for Biological Diversity. "EPA is acknowledging the reach of the
Clean Water Act as a tool that may be able to reduce acidification, which is
poised to become the most serious water-quality threat to our
oceans."

EPA is
soliciting information on what the agency should consider to determine if waters
are impaired by ocean acidification; impaired waters are those requiring limits
on pollution to protect water quality. EPA's action aims toward issuing guidance
on how to approach ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act. 

"As ocean
acidification becomes more severe, every coastal region will need to worry about
what that means for marine life, fishing, and coastal resources," said
Sakashita. "The sooner EPA takes steps to address ocean acidification, the more
likely it is we can avoid the unraveling of ocean ecosystems as we know
them." 

The oceans
absorb about 22 million tons of CO2 every day - a process causing
seawater to become more acidic - and are about 30 percent more acidic from
burning fossil fuels. The primary known consequence of ocean acidification is
that it impairs the ability of marine life to build the protective shells and
skeletons they need to survive. Scientific studies have shown that corals,
shellfish, and plankton all suffer adverse impacts from acidification.
Scientists have already found that marine life in certain areas are already
being detrimentally exposed to corrosive waters.

EPA's notice
is the result of a settlement of a suit brought by the Center for Biological
Diversity under the Clean Water Act, which challenged EPA's failure to address
ocean acidification off the coast of Washington. Chris Winter of Crag Law Center
represented the Center in the suit.

EPA will
accept public comments on ocean acidification until May 21, 2010 at www.regulations.gov (Docket ID No.
EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0175). For more information, and EPA's specific inquiries, see
the notice.

The Center for Biological Diversity also has information on its ocean
acidification
campaign.

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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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