The Crag Law Center today filed the first lawsuit seeking to address ocean acidification caused by carbon dioxide emissions.  Crag filed the case on behalf of its client, the Center for Biological Diversity.

Oceans readily absorb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other human activities.  As a result, seawater becomes more acidic, which impairs the ability of marine animals to build the protective shells and skeletons they need to survive.  Studies have shown that ocean acidification hurts nearly every marine animal with a shell, including oysters, urchins, sea stars, and crabs.  It also weakens and dissolves the thin shells of certain plankton that form the base of the marine food web.

Scientists monitoring water quality off of the Washington coast have reported that ocean acidification is already affecting seawater quality and marine ecosystems.  The Center for Biological Diversity requested that Washington list its ocean waters as impaired under the Clean Water Act due to lower pH levels.  Washington refused, and EPA then approved Washington’s list of impaired waters without addressing the ocean acidification issue.  On behalf of the Center, Crag filed a federal lawsuit against EPA for approving Washington’s list of impaired waters without addressing this problem.  For more information, follow the links below:

Ocean Acidification Press Release

Ocean Acidification Complaint

2008 Feely et al Study of Ocean Acidification in Washington

2006 New Yorker Article on Ocean Acidification

Center for Biological Diversity Page on Ocean Acidification

Seattle Times Article on the suit.