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Category Archives: Clean Water Act

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The View From The Pacific Northwest: What to Watch in Environmental Law and Policy Post-Inauguration, Part 2

Posted in Clean Water Act, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Regulatory

Note: this is part 2 of 3 in my series of how the new administration may impact environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest. For background, please see Part 1. Tribal Relations One of the key factors influencing environmental law and policy in the Pacific Northwest is the presence of and obligations owed to… Continue Reading

EPA Promulgates New Water Quality Standards for Toxics in Washington: Rejecting the Vast Majority of the Criteria Developed by the Washington Department of Ecology

Posted in Clean Water Act

If you have not yet seen the press, yesterday, EPA issued its final rule revising water quality standards for toxics in Washington. This finalizes the draft rule published more than a year ago, and comes on the heels of the lawsuit brought against EPA for not finalizing that rule in a timely fashion. It also… Continue Reading

Breaking: Puget Soundkeeper and Others Sue EPA (Again) Alleging Failure to Adopt Water Quality Standards for Washington that Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Earthjustice, representing a number of environmental groups, sued EPA on Friday alleging that EPA is in violation of the Clean Water Act because it has not finalized the draft rule it published back in September that set water quality standards for toxics in Washington based on higher fish consumption rates. This lawsuit is not a surprise,… Continue Reading

Breaking: EPA Issues Draft Rule Revising Washington’s Water Quality Standards for Toxics to Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

Yesterday, following quickly on the heels of Governor Inslee’s withdrawal of Washington’s version of the fish consumption rule, EPA released draft water quality standards for toxics for Washington. These standards, if adopted, are significantly more stringent than those Ecology had proposed. By way of background, the core issue that emerged over the last two years is… Continue Reading

Back to the Drawing Board: What’s Next for the Fish Consumption Rule in Washington State?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Natural Resources and Environment, Public Health Policy, Rule Making

I have written extensively on the efforts by the Washington Department of Ecology to revise Washington’s Water Quality Standards to account for a higher fish consumption rate. This summer was when we were supposed to see the final rule be submitted to EPA for review and possible approval. In a nutshell, the controversy around this… Continue Reading

Guest Post: Aspect Consulting’s Discussion of the Washington Department of Ecology’s Efforts to Update Its Water Quality Assessment for Freshwaters

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Guest Posts, Water Quality

This is another in the series of guest posts authored by the consultants we work with and trust. Owen Reese is a Water Resources Engineer at Aspect Consulting approached us and offered to provide Aspect’s perspective on Ecology’s efforts to update its Water Quality Assessment for freshwater. We eagerly took Owen up on the offer… Continue Reading

Ecology Releases Preliminary Draft Rule Adjusting Washington’s Water Quality Standards to Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

As directed by Governor Inslee back in July, the Washington Department of Ecology released a preliminary draft rule that will ultimately lead to the amendment of Washington’s Water Quality Standards for toxics. This is the next step in a multi-year process under which Washington is adjusting its WQS to account for a higher fish consumption… Continue Reading

Pebble Mine Jumps the Gun on Challenge to EPA’s 404(c) Authority

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting

Ruling from the bench on Friday, Judge H. Russel Holland dismissed Pebble Limited Partnership’s claims that the EPA overstepped its authority in initiating proceedings under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. (The written opinion is here.) EPA advised Pebble Partnership by letter in February 2014 that it was beginning the process under 404(c) to review… Continue Reading

Breaking: Judge Coughenour Dismisses Puget Soundkeeper’s Fish Consumption Lawsuit

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Yesterday afternoon, Judge Coughenour issued his decision on the summary judgment motions in the lawsuit brought by Earthjustice on Puget Soundkeeper‘s behalf. The motion alleged that EPA Region 10 violated the Clean Water Act by not promulgating revised water quality criteria for Washington that account for higher fish consumption rates. The case broke just about how… Continue Reading

Guest Post from Integral Consulting: Integral Continues the Conversation Related to Washington State’s Water Quality Standards Revisions

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Doug’s post on July 23 provided an excellent summary of Ecology’s webinar outlining its revision process for water quality standards (WQSs). Integral would like to point out a few more details of interest in Ecology’s approach. Ecology indicated that it will continue to use bioconcentration factors (BCFs), which estimate concentrations in fish tissue based on… Continue Reading

Report from Ecology’s July 22nd Meeting Outlining the Next Steps to Update Water Quality Standards

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

Ecology held a meeting at its Lacey offices yesterday to outline the next steps in the process to update Washington’s Water Quality Standards Handbook to account for increased fish consumption rates. This meeting comes on the heels of Governor Inslee’s July 9th announcement regarding his policy decisions in the issue. Yesterday’s meeting was focused on what… Continue Reading

Governor Inslee Issues His Policy Brief on Updating Washington’s Water Quality Standards

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Legislation

Governor Inslee held a press conference yesterday morning, where he presented his policy brief on Washington’s ongoing efforts to update its water quality standards to account for higher fish consumption rates. This has been a long time coming, and is a significant development on what is arguably the most important environmental rulemaking effort Washington has… Continue Reading

What Can Washington Learn from Plastics in the Pacific and Mercury in the Midwest?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

Two different scientific papers caught my eye this past week. Neither involve research conducted in the Pacific Northwest, but both are worth reviewing in light of the fish consumption debate raging in Washington right now. The first is an upcoming article by a group of Spanish researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences… Continue Reading

Fact Check: Are Carbon Emissons Contributing to Acid Rain?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Geeky Science Stuff, Ocean Acidification, Water Quality

This morning’s twitter feed brought me the latest from Crosscut on Governor Inslee’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce. The most important part of the article was the announcement that the next Taskforce meeting (on July 29th) will include a rollout of a draft plan to meet the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state… Continue Reading

Guest Post from Integral Consulting: Integral Continues the Conversation Related to Doug’s Posts on Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Note: This is the second guest post by Integral on this subject, it is also worth reviewing their prior post from February on this topic. In addition to the updated national recommended water quality criteria discussed by Doug on May 20, EPA has recently released another document with implications for selection of an appropriate fish… Continue Reading

Friday (the 13th) Morning Link Roundup: EPA Administrator Snubbing Press, Canada’s Attention Shifts to Coal Exports, Fish Consumption and More from the Wild Fish Conservancy

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Fish Consumption

A quick roundup of some of the articles that caught my eye on Twitter in the past week or so: First, U.S. News‘ Washington Whispers page has a report out on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy seemingly snubbing the press after a private event at the National Press Club yesterday where she gave a presentation on… Continue Reading

EPA’s Updated National Recommended Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health: Implications for Washington State’s Fish Consumption Dilemma?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption

Last Tuesday, EPA published its draft of the latest update to the National Recommended Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health. These recommended criteria are developed under Section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act, and provide guidance to states and tribes that promulgate criteria under delegated programs. Importantly, they are not binding requirements… Continue Reading

First Reaction to EPA’s Just-Released Draft of the Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Rule Making, Water Quality

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers released a preview of the long-awaited proposed rule updating the definition of “Waters of the United States” yesterday morning. The proposed rule will soon be published in the Federal Register, but the unofficial version of the rule is available now. My initial reaction is that this rule—while being… Continue Reading

Breaking: Judge Coughenour Denies BNSF’s Motion to Dismiss in Suit Alleging CWA Violations for Discharge of Coal from Trains

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Water Quality

Yesterday, Judge Coughenour denied BNSF’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by various environmental groups under the Clean Water Act that alleges that BNSF has been discharging coal from rail cars without an NPDES permit. He did so without oral argument, finding that the 60 day notice letter sent by the plaintiffs to BNSF and others… Continue Reading

EPA’s Initiation of a Clean Water Act Section 404(c) Review for the Mining of the Pebble Deposit: What is the History of EPA’s Other 404(c) Determinations?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Last Friday, EPA announced that it is initiating review of the proposed mining of the Pebble deposit in Alaska under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, a little-used part of the CWA that allows EPA to “veto” Section 404 permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. As we briefly discussed over on Graham… Continue Reading

Breaking: Puget Soundkeeper Moves for Summary Judgment in Suit Against EPA Alleging Failure to Promulgate Water Quality Standards for Toxics in Washington

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

This week saw two important developments in the lawsuit brought by Puget Soundkeeper and other environmental organizations against EPA Region 10 seeking to force EPA to promulgate new water quality standards for Washington that account for higher fish consumption rates: The first is that the court, not surprisingly, granted Ecology’s motion to intervene earlier this week…. Continue Reading

Guest Post: Integral Consulting’s Perspective on Washington’s Current Water Quality Standard Rulemaking Efforts

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Geeky Science Stuff, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Note from Doug Steding: This post came about when Randi Wexler from Integral Consulting Inc. sent me an email saying they were working on a comment to one of my previous fish consumption posts. Integral has been tracking this issue closely for a number of years, and I was excited to be able to offer… Continue Reading

(Almost) Live Blogging: Ecology’s Delegates Table Meeting on Water Quality Criteria Revisions to Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Water Quality

I spent much of this morning listening in on the Department of Ecology’s latest Delegates’ Table meeting regarding the ongoing efforts to revise Washington’s Water Quality Standards to account for higher fish consumption rates. The meeting included an update on where Ecology is in the process, Ecology’s current thinking on where the rule making may… Continue Reading

The Latest on Fish Consumption Rates and Water Quality Criteria: AWB’s Study on Impacts to Utility Rates and the Futility of Achieving Contemplated Water Quality Criteria for Toxics

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

The issue of fish consumption rates is something Washington has been wrestling with for years, but is an issue that has received mainstream media coverage only in the past year or so. I think it still is an issue that seems largely esoteric to many–frankly, it is a complex issue from a science, policy, and… Continue Reading