EPA Failure to Act Under the ESA for 20 Years Brings Action by NWEA

WASHINGTON WATER QUALITY STANDARDS  LACK PROTECTION FOR HUMAN HEALTH Despite Congress’s clear requirements, both EPA and the WA Department of Ecology have ignored the law...Read moreEPA Failure brings into question Washington’s water quality standards.

In a sweeping case that addresses a wide variety of pollutants – from temperature to toxics –  NWEA has challenged EPA’s failure to consult under the Endangered Species Act on its approval of Washington’s  water quality standards dating to 1993.  At issue is whether Washington’s water quality standards are sufficiently protective of threatened and endangered salmon, orca whale, smelt, bull trout, and rockfish.  Some of the pollutants, such as ammonia and copper, have been found to pose jeopardy to the same or similar species in Oregon.  Most of the standards are extremely outdated.  The NWEA complaint also challenges EPA’s failure to take action on a variety of exemptions the Washington Department of Ecology included in its water quality standards.  And, finally, NWEA challenges as illegal EPA’s approvals of provisions in Washington’s standards that allow Ecology to supersede numeric criteria for temperature and dissolved oxygen on the basis that pollution levels are “natural.”