Enviros sue EPA over ocean acidification

An environmental group is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking to have Washington coastal waters listed as impaired because carbon dioxide is making the ocean more acidic.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the EPA has failed to consider how ocean acidification is adversely affecting water quality and marine animals.

The complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleges the EPA violated the federal Clean Water Act by not listing Washington ocean waters as impaired, even though the group says research shows carbon dioxide in seawater is threatening marine ecosystems.

“The EPA has a duty under the Clean Water Act to protect our nation’s waters from pollution, and today, C02 is one of the biggest threats to our ocean waters,” said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Ocean acidification refers to a change in the chemistry of water due to excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As more carbon dioxide dissolves in the ocean, it lowers ocean pH, making it more acidic. The pH value is used to measure a liquid’s acidity or alkalinity.

The EPA says these ocean changes present potential risks to marine ecosystems. Researchers have observed adverse changes in marine life with calcium-carbonate shells, such as corals and mussels.

Enesta Jones, an EPA spokeswoman in Washington D.C., said Thursday the agency will respond after reviewing the complaint.

“We take concerns regarding acidification of ocean and coastal waters very seriously,” Jones said. “Protection of the nation’s water quality is among EPA’s highest priorities.”

Phuong Le, seattlepi.com, 14 May 2009. Full article.

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