Description: Challenge to EPA approval of Washington’s and Oregon’s lists of impaired waters.
Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 03/02/2015 Order Download Amended order issued granting summary judgment to EPA. The court granted summary judgment to EPA. As an initial matter, the court concluded that the Center for Biological Diversity had standing to bring the action, rejecting arguments raised by the Western States Petroleum Association and the American Petroleum Institute in an amicus curiae brief. The court concluded that the Center for Biological Diversity had established causation and redressability. The court reasoned that even though global atmospheric carbon dioxide—which the amicus brief argued could not be addressed through a Clean Water Act mechanism—was the primary driver of acidification, the Center for Biological Diversity had alleged that local activities also had a significant impact on ocean acidity and that local mitigation measures could address “hot spots” of ocean acidification. Ultimately, however, the court found that EPA’s approval of the impaired waters lists was neither implausible nor contrary to the evidence. The court also determined that EPA had reasonably concluded that Washington and Oregon assembled and evaluated all existing and readily available water quality data. 08/15/2014 Motion for Summary Judgment Download United States' cross-motion for summary judgment filed. Both EPA and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) moved for summary judgment in CBD’s challenge to EPA’s approvals of Oregon’s and Washington’s lists of impaired waters under the Clean Water Act. CBD argued that EPA’s approvals were at odds with evidence in the administrative record of the harmful effects of ocean acidification caused by increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and also that data EPA was required to consider was missing from the record. EPA said it recognized the seriousness of ocean acidification and that more information and data were available now than were available in 2010, when the reporting period for the challenged listings ended, and more even than in 2012, when EPA approved the lists. EPA argued, however, that viewed in terms of the information available at the time of EPA’s approvals, those approvals were fully supported and deserved deference. 06/20/2014 Motion for Summary Judgment Download Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment filed. 10/16/2013 Complaint Download Complaint filed. CBD commenced a lawsuit in the district court for the Western District of Washington challenging EPA’s approvals of Oregon’s and Washington’s lists of impaired waters. CBD alleged that the approvals were arbitrary and capricious and in violation of the Clean Water Act because of EPA’s longstanding acknowledgment that “as a result of absorbing large quantities of human-made carbon dioxide emissions, ocean chemistry is changing, and this is likely to negatively affect marine ecosystems and species including coral reefs, shellfish, and fisheries.” CBD further alleged that EPA had before it “substantial evidence” that oyster production problems in Oregon and Washington stemmed from acidification. 07/23/2013 Notice of Intent to Sue Download Request for reconsideration and notice of intent to sue submitted. On July 23, 2013, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sent a “courtesy letter” to inform EPA of CBD’s intent to sue to challenge EPA’s December 2012 approvals of Washington’s and Oregon’s lists of impaired waters under section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. CBD asserted that EPA’s approval of lists without any waterbodies identified as threatened or impaired by ocean acidification was arbitrary and capricious and urged EPA to reconsider its determinations.