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Earthrise Fights to Strengthen Water Quality Standards

April 27, 2015

On April 20, 2015, on behalf of Northwest Environmental Advocates, Earthrise filed the latest lawsuit in its long-running effort to strengthen water quality standards for toxic pollutants in the State of Oregon. The suit seeks to compel the U.S. EPA to develop toxicity criteria for four pollutants—aluminum, ammonia, cadmium, and copper—in light of ongoing inaction on the part of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

These four pollutants can be harmful to a range of aquatic species, from mussels to endangered salmon; individually or collectively they can impair respiratory function, reproduction, growth and development, immune response, and other crucial physiological processes.  Oregon tried to revise its criteria for these pollutants in 2004, but EPA rejected the State’s proposal in part because the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service found it would jeopardize endangered aquatic species in Oregon. Oregon’s current toxicity criteria for these four pollutants are over 25 years old 

NWEA was compelled to file this suit when EPA rejected Oregon’s aquatic life criteria for these four pollutants in January of 2013, but subsequently failed to develop its own criteria on behalf of the State as the Clean Water Act requires.

NWEA seeks a court order setting a firm deadline for EPA to complete its mandatory duty under the Clean Water Act to promulgate revised water quality criteria for aluminum, ammonia, cadmium, and copper to protect aquatic life in Oregon.

Case Name:  Northwest Environmental Advocates v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 3:15-cv-00663 (D. Or. filed April 20, 2015)

Client:  Northwest Environmental Advocates

Earthrise Attorneys:  Allison LaPlante and Jamie Saul