Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wisconsin environmental groups plan to sue EPA over water regulations

Wisconsin environmental groups plan to sue EPA over water regulations
Published 11/23/2009 - 1:20 p.m. CST

Wisconsin environment groups said they plan to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in an attempt to enforce the federal regulations covering water pollution.

The coalition said the legal action would be aimed at pushing EPA to regulate nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in Wisconsin waters under the Clean Water Act. The groups said EPA pledged to regulate this pollution in 1999, but action was delayed for years.

Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, common in many Wisconsin lakes and streams, has been shown to contaminate drinking water, contribute to the growth of potentially toxic cyanobacteria or “blue-green algae,” and is the main cause of algal blooms in the Great Lakes and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, the groups said.

Betsy Lawton, interim executive director of Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) and an attorney representing the coalition stated, “Wisconsin DNR has developed the science needed for sound phosphorus standards, and EPA must honor its 1999 pledge to set standards for this harmful pollutant that hampers recreation for Wisconsin residents by contributing to green, stinky water, closed beaches, and toxic algae.”

This year, nutrient-induced blue-green algae in Wisconsin has led to the death of pets, and several cases of rashes, sore throats and eye irritation, the groups maintained. “Businesses located on waters tainted with toxic algae are really hurting,” said Denny Caneff, executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin. “They lose customers who flee the stench and the health hazards posed by toxic algae. EPA needs to act to limit the nutrients causing these algae blooms.”

The groups filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue, the first step in a Clean Water Act citizen suit. The groups now must wait 60 days before filing a formal lawsuit. The coalition of groups is being represented by two Midwestern environmental law centers, Midwest Environmental Advocates and the Environmental Law & Policy Center. The full 60 day notice is available here at

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