Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 26, 2016

Contact:  Brett Hartl, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 817-8121,
Nina Bell, Northwest Environmental Advocates,

Legal Action Launched to Strengthen Water Quality in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut

EPA Failed to Consider Harm to Endangered Salmon, Sturgeon When
Approving Revised Water Quality Standards

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups notified the Environmental Protection Agency today that they plan to sue the agency for failing to consider the needs of endangered salmon and sturgeon when lowering state water-quality standards in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Connecticut. Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA is required to approve any changes made by states to their water-quality standards, which set the maximum allowable water-pollution levels necessary to protect aquatic life. As part of that approval process, the EPA is required to consult with the expert wildlife agencies to ensure that any changes to water quality standards do not jeopardize endangered species. 

“Once more the Environmental Protection Agency has ignored the law and turned a blind eye to the needs of endangered salmon and sturgeon, which are often the most sensitive to toxic pollution,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Changing pollution standards without consulting with scientific experts leaves these sensitive species at grave risk from pesticide runoff and toxic pollutants like cadmium, chromium, mercury and selenium.” 

Between 2012 and 2016, the EPA has approved more than 30 different changes to water-quality standards in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut. These changes include revisions to standards for more than a dozen toxic heavy-metal pollutants, several organophosphate pesticides including diazinon, and conventional pollutants including phosphorus and ammonia. Many of these pollutants have been identified by the National Marine Fisheries Services as impediments to the survival and recovery of Atlantic salmon, Atlantic sturgeon, and shortnose sturgeon. By failing to consult under the Endangered Species Act, the EPA failed to consider whether the states should implement additional conservation measures to minimize harm from exposure to these pollutants.

Earthrise Law Clinic at Lewis and Clark Law School is representing the Center for Biological Diversity and Northwest Environmental Advocates in this matter.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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