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EPA to states: Start measuring ocean acidification


In response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Environmental Protection Agency is advising coastal states to start collecting data on ocean acidification in their coastal waters.

The Center wants all coastal states to list their waters as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act, and sued when Washington State failed to so. In March, EPA settled the lawsuit and started collecting comments on how the states could start tracking acidification on their coastlines.

In a memo released this week, the EPA recognized “the seriousness of aquatic life impacts” associated with ocean acidification, and explained how those impacts are handled under Clean Water Act. But the agency also acknowledged the fact that states don’t have the data they would need to list coastal waters as impaired by acidic conditions. Not yet, anyway.

A key problem here, the EPA hinted, is that scientists say ocean acidification is increasing because of carbon dioxide emissions (current and throughout the past 50 years). And brining ocean water into compliance with the Clean Water Act standards takes us right back to the debate over how to regulate CO2 emissions.

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