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NW Fishletter #389, January 7, 2019

[9] Judge Stays Order Requiring EPA To Set Columbia Basin Temperature Standards

A federal judge in Seattle granted the EPA's request to delay requirements of an Oct. 17 order that requires the agency to issue standards for water temperature on the Snake and Columbia rivers until the appeals process is complete.

On Nov. 30, U.S. District Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez granted EPA's motion for a stay pending appeal in Columbia Riverkeeper et al. v. Andrew Wheeler et al.

Martinez had ruled that the EPA must issue total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for temperature throughout large segments of the two rivers by Dec. 17. That requirement is now on hold while the appeal is heard; the appeal was filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 23.

The agency has declined to comment.

Court filings indicated that the appeal was "protective," and that the agency was still deciding whether to pursue its appeal, but this ruling may convince the agency to move ahead with the appeal.

Miles Johnson, an attorney for Columbia Riverkeeper, confirmed in an interview with NW Fishletter that based on those court filings, the EPA hasn't technically decided to appeal.

Johnson said compared with state agencies, the EPA is in the best position to issue a TMDL for the Columbia and Snake rivers due to the technical nature and complexity of the multi-jurisdictional waterway. "I think they are working on it, and are relatively close to finishing it," he said.

"Columbia Riverkeeper thinks that the best thing for Columbia River salmon and steelhead is to have a TMDL as soon as possible, because the temperature issue is developing into a crisis on the Columbia and Snake rivers," he added. "We're having fish kills and problems with temperature every summer. The EPA spinning this out for another two years is disappointing." -K.C. Mehaffey

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NW Fishletter is produced by NewsData LLC.
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: K.C. Mehaffey
Phone: (206) 285-4848 Fax: (206) 281-8035

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