The Limits of Water Quality Criteria

The Limits of Water Quality Criteria

A rising tide of acidity is overwhelming the global ocean. Estuaries and near-shore waters fall under the jurisdiction of states and the federal government, mandating treatment under the Clean Water Act, but criteria for action are uncertain and unclear. BY: RYAN KELLY & MEG CALDWELL, The Environmental Forum

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the global ocean has absorbed a third of the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, transforming it into carbonic acid. The acidity of the marine environment has increased by roughly a third since 1750, changing chemical processes vital to life, including shell and coral formation and the growth of bony structures in fish. This massive change in ocean chemistry is a growing water quality problem that focuses attention on the surprisingly difficult business of determining whether and how a particular water quality standard has been violated. Such attention brings with it a larger question of whether water quality criteria are legally sufficient under the CWA if they are difficult or impossible to test as a practical matter, and highlights the changing role of the act as it is used to combat a new class of water pollution.

Monday, December 10, 2012
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Trouble in the Water: Acidifying Oceans Hinder Health of Northwest Shellfish

PBS

The world's oceans are absorbing carbon dioxide at an unprecedented rate and the resulting acidification is transforming marine ecosystems. Hari Sreenivasan reports on how ocean acidification is already affecting oysters and other shellfish in the U.S.

Friday, December 7, 2012
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State should lead in fighting climate change

The Olympian

This state can’t afford to wait for decisive action by federal and global leaders on the pressing problem of climate change. One of the most compelling cases in point is the growing evidence that ocean acidification is raising havoc with the marine ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest, including Puget Sound. Last week, a panel of scientists and policymakers appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire issued a sweeping set of recommendations to combat ocean acidification.

Sunday, December 2, 2012
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Orcas Island senator eyes a carbon tax to protect NW shellfish

Orcas Island senator eyes a carbon tax to protect NW shellfish

After a jarring report from Gov. Gregoire's panel on ocean acidification, state Sen. Kevin Ranker takes aim at the Northwest's biggest culprit: Carbon dioxide emissions. BY: JOHN STANG, Crosscut

State Sen. Kevin Ranker is considering an industrial carbon tax to curb carbon dioxide emissions in Washington and to deal with the increasing acidity of the state's waters.

Friday, November 30, 2012
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In Our View: Oceans Threatened

Rising acid levels are addressed in panel's new recommendations, The Columbian

One of the first and most frequent rebuttals to environmental concerns is based on finances: Can we afford the solutions? Therefore, we'll begin this discussion of ocean acidification — admittedly a complex and still murky issue — by focusing on the financial aspects. 

Washington state leads the nation in production of farmed shellfish, providing 85 percent of sales on the west coast, including Alaska. The shellfish industry contributes $270 million annually to our state's economy and supports 3,200 jobs. It also contributes to tourism, as you know if you've ever dug razor clams on the coast. The impact of rising levels of acid in the ocean was dramatically illustrated between 2005 and 2009 with massive loss of oyster larvae in Northwest hatcheries, including the 2005 failure of larvae at Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchers on Netarts Bay near Tillamook, Ore. 

The good news is that Washington state also leads the nation in research and advocacy on this issue, evidenced by Tuesday's report from a panel of experts and stakeholders appointed 10 months ago by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The first of its kind at such a high level of state governance, the report includes 42 wide-ranging recommendations. Those include specifics such as increasing seaweed farming to remove carbon dioxide from ocean waters, and generalities such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Friday, November 30, 2012
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