Water Quality Standards

On Monday, right at the start of this year’s legislative session, Ecology filed its proposed rule that will–if adopted–result in adoption of new Water Quality Standards in Washington that account for high rates of fish consumption in this state.

What has changed as compared to the preliminary draft rule?

Not much, and nothing of

Governor Inslee has been busy since the end of the last legislative session laying out his environmental agenda, announcing his intent to pursue an aggressive climate change agenda back in April, and coupling the controversial fish consumption issue to an overall toxics reduction strategy.

Today marks the start of the legislative session. Here are five

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

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 we predicted it would when it was filed back in October. Judge Coughenour’s thoughtful opinion concluded that he lack subject matter jurisdiction to consider Puget Soundkeeper’s challenge because the emails and letters sent to Ecology by EPA that which Puget Soundkeeper did not amount to a “determination” under Section 303(c)(4)(B) of the Clean Water Act that Washington’s water quality standards were inadequate, which would have triggered a non-discretionary duty by EPA under the CWA to promulgate new regulations. Because there was no non-discretionary duty that EPA had failed to fufill, Judge Coughenour concluded he lack subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed the case without prejudice.

Judge Coughenour spends a significant amount of his opinion analyzing the four communications between EPA and Ecology relied upon by Puget Soundkeeper in arguing EPA had a non-discretionary duty to promulgate water quality standards for toxics in Washington. If you have time, his analysis is worth the read, it begins on page three of the order issued yesterday.

In sum, he concluded that these communications did not amount to a Section 303(c)(4)(B) “determination” because:Continue Reading Breaking: Judge Coughenour Dismisses Puget Soundkeeper’s Fish Consumption Lawsuit