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EPA sued over fish consumption in state

October 22, 2013 J

SEATTLE — A fight over how much fish people eat in Washington — and thus, how much toxic pollution they consume — is now in federal court.

Conservation and commercial fishing groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, saying the agency has for too long let state officials underestimate fish consumption, resulting in weaker anti-pollution standards than are needed to protect the public.

The groups, including Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Columbia Riverkeeper and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, reason that if the estimates were more realistic, the state would have to more strictly regulate emmissions of mercury, lead, copper and other toxins — a prospect that concerns industry groups and that emerged as a sticking point in budget talks in Olympia last spring.

Businesses must obtain permits before they can discharge pollutants into the state’s waters under the federal Clean Water Act, and increasing the estimate of how much fish people eat could result in those permits becoming more restrictive.

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