Description: Rulemaking petition and subsequent litigation requesting that EPA amend water quality criteria and publish guidance to address ocean acidification.
Center for Biological Diversity, Petition for Additional Water Quality Criteria and Guidance Under Section 304 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1314, to Address Ocean Acidification
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/14/2016 Response to Petition for Rulemaking Download Letter sent denying rulemaking petition. EPA Denied Rulemaking Petition Seeking Water Quality Criteria to Address Ocean Acidification. In December 2016, EPA denied a 2013 rulemaking petition from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) asking EPA to promulgate water quality criteria for ocean acidification. CBD also asked EPA to issue guidance that included information on factors necessary to prevent dangerous changes in seawater chemistry caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. EPA declined to take these actions, saying that it had decided to prioritize other actions that it believed would have greater utility in addressing ocean acidification, including allocating resources to states and territories to assist them in understanding and mitigating ocean acidification in near-shore coastal and estuarine waters. 05/17/2013 Response to Petition for Rulemaking Download Response to rulemaking petition issued. In a letter dated May 17, 2013, EPA responded to the petition. In the May 17 letter, EPA indicated that it intended to establish a technical workgroup within the next six months that would study ocean acidification and its causes. 04/17/2013 Petition for Rulemaking Download Petition for rulemaking submitted. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned EPA to promulgate additional water quality criteria under Section 304 of the Clean Water Act to address ocean acidification and to request that EPA publish information on water quality in order to guide states addressing ocean acidification. The petition provided an overview of the scientific background for ocean acidification, asserting that as the oceans absorb carbon dioxide emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, seawater becomes increasingly acidic, and that the current rate of acidification is faster than anything experienced in the last 300 million years. The petition asserts that EPA has a non-discretionary duty to promulgate standards because the current criteria and guidelines “do not reflect the latest scientific knowledge and fail to protect marine water quality, as required by the Clean Water Act.”
Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/08/2016 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Center for Biological Diversity Filed Lawsuit Seeking EPA Response to Ocean Acidification Petition. The Center for Biological Diversity filed an action in the federal district court for the District of Columbia challenging EPA’s failure to respond to its April 2013 petition requesting that EPA amend water quality criteria and publish guidance to address ocean acidification. The complaint asked the court to find that EPA had failed to act in a reasonable timeframe and to order EPA to formally respond. The complaint noted that the existing criteria for ocean acidity were developed in 1976 and said that a “robust body of science” had been developed since that time that could assist in revising the water quality criteria.