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News Posted on October 25, 2013

Professor Frank Comments on Center for Biological Diversity Lawsuit

Professor of Environmental Practice Richard Frank commented for Grist on a federal lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity that seeks to force the Environmental Protection Agency to address acidification of waters off the Oregon and Washington coasts.  The increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that are driving climate change are also making ocean surface waters more acidic and endangering some aquatic species such as oysters, and the suit seeks to force the EPA to list Oregon and Washington coast areas as "impaired waters" subject to protection under the Clean Water Act.

"I understand and sympathize with the impulse to use existing provisions to accomplish a result," said Frank. "Assuming the EPA agrees to list these waters, or a court orders them to do so, what's the impact? What this really comes down to is climate change-driven acidification, which is a global problem. Most of the acidification is actually the result of airborne of greenhouse gas emissions that find their way into waters. Most judges are going to look at the suit and say, ‘What can I, as a judge, do? What order can I impose that achieves the desired result?' I think that's a pretty daunting challenge for the Center, and the assigned federal judge."

Frank, a 1974 graduate of King Hall, is a leader in the field of environmental law and the founding Director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at UC Davis School of Law.