Just before the 4th of July, The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawsuit is based upon the EPA’s approval of a Clean Water Act covering stormwater discharges for thousands of industrial facilities countrywide.
The lawsuit faults the Clean Water Act’s failure to protect the public, waterways, animals, and critical habitats from plastic and other forms of pollution discharged through industrial stormwater. An attorney involved in the lawsuit claims the EPA simply reissued its 2015 permit and failed to consider the Center for Biological Diversity’s recommendations. The lawsuit targets stormwater discharges into U.S. waters from industrial polluters in 30 categories, including chemical, rubber and plastics, among others.
Plastic production, transportation and use in industrial facilities results in the transfer of trillions of plastic particles to the environment every year. These particles are often spilled in outdoor areas, picked up by runoff and discharged to surface waters. Once in the environment, these plastic particles are eaten by marine animals and birds and become embedded in sediments and plants. It is estimated that 15 million tons of microplastics have currently settled onto the ocean floor.
Stay tuned for Ninth Circuit’s rulings in this case as, according to the American Chemistry Council, the plastics and chemical industry is investing more than $200 billion in the U.S. for 349 plastics production projects. It is ironic that 40% of new plastic production is for single use items, including water bottles designed to carry clean water.