Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 27, 2018

Contact: Emily Jeffers, (510) 844-7109,

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration's Failure to Address Ocean Acidification in Oregon

EPA Refuses to Recognize Waters Impaired by Carbon Pollution  

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the Trump administration for refusing to recognize that ocean acidification caused by fossil fuel pollution is impairing the quality of Oregon’s coastal waters.

The lawsuit, filed today in federal court in Portland, notes that the Environmental Protection Agency is violating the Clean Water Act by failing to identify waters impaired by ocean acidification. That would allow those waters to be subject to pollution controls and other protective measures.

Shellfish and other marine life are being harmed as the Pacific Ocean absorbs carbon dioxide emissions and becomes more acidic — a condition that climate scientists expect to worsen steadily.

“Ocean acidification is wreaking havoc on Oregon’s coastal waters while the Trump administration ignores the dire threat created by our fossil fuel addiction,” said Emily Jeffers, a Center attorney. “This pollution is already harming Oregon’s oysters and plankton that whales and salmon depend on. We can protect water quality and coastal communities but only if federal officials address acidification before it gets worse.”

Oregon’s oyster farms first began experiencing mass mortalities from ocean acidification in 2005. Warm ocean conditions and coastal upwelling make the West Coast particularly vulnerable. Acidification is affecting the Pacific Northwest’s coastal waters at rates and magnitudes greater than scientists had previously estimated and has already reached levels that were not predicted until the end of the century.

Ocean acidification severely erodes the shells of small plankton called pteropods, an important base of the marine food web. Corals worldwide are endangered by ocean acidification, and some are already stunted.

Other species around the globe, such as clownfish, suffer brain damage and behavioral problems because of corrosive waters. The oceans absorb 22 million tons of CO2 pollution every day, which is changing the water’s chemistry.

“The chemistry of our oceans is changing in dangerous ways. They can’t keep absorbing all the carbon pollution we’re creating,” Jeffers said. “The federal government needs to recognize the problem and take real action on ocean acidification before our coastal ecosystems and economies suffer any more.”   

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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