Clean Water Act Cases

Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA (2009-2010). 

May 2009: The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the EPA in federal court in Washington State, alleging that the agency failed to recognize the impacts of ocean acidification on waters off the state’s coast. The suit was brought under the Clean Water Act, which requires states to identify water bodies that fail to meet water-quality standards. According to the Center, since 2000, the pH of Washington’s coastal waters has declined by more than .2 units, which violates the state’s water-quality standard for pH. The complaint states that carbon dioxide, which is absorbed by seawater, causes seawater to become more acidic, lowering its pH. This impairs the ability of certain marine animals to build protective shells and skeletons they need to survive.  

March 2010: In a proposed settlement, EPA agreed to consider issuing nationwide guidance under the Clean Water Act to help states deal with the threat of ocean acidification. Under the terms of the settlement, EPA would seek comments on approaches for states to determine if waters are threatened or impaired by ocean acidification and how states might help monitor ocean acidification and its effects on marine life and ecosystems.