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 comes on the heels of Washington submitting its own water quality standards to EPA for approval under the Clean Water Act this past August. So, the action by EPA is two-fold: first, it finalized its own rule that will be applicable in Washington (replacing the National Toxics Rule), and second, it approved and disapproved parts of Washington’s submittal. The net result is one new, comprehensive set of water quality standards that will form the basis for permits issued in Washington under the Clean Water Act.
On April 14, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it would not list the Pacific Fisher under the Endangered Species Act. The fisher (Pekania pennant) is presently found in Southern Oregon, Northern California, and the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, although historically, the species ranged the northern forests of Canada and the United States, as well as forests in the Appalachian, Rocky, and Pacific Coast Mountains. The fisher’s range was reduced in the 1800s and early 1900s through over-trapping for pelts, the poisonous impacts of predator and pest control, and alterations of forested habitats caused by logging, fire, urbanization, and farming. Only two naturally occurring fisher populations survive—one in the southern Sierra and another in Northern California—although the fisher has been reintroduced in the Olympic Natural Park, the Cascade Range, and private timberland in the northern Sierras. Reports from the studies of the fisher reintroduction on the Olympic Peninsula are positive. Continue Reading Wherefore Art Thou, Fisher? U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Decides Not to List the Pacific Fisher
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, because it came after the requisite 60-day notice was sent to EPA back in December. It is also not the first time this group of plaintiffs have sued EPA with respect to this issue, having done so more than two years ago. That lawsuit was dismissed on summary judgment.
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.