Environmentalists demonstrate during a street parade as part of the "Global Village of Alternatives" events held in Montreuil, near Paris, France, December 5, 2015 as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) continues at Le Bourget near the French capital. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Conservation groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Thursday to protect wild salmon from so-called man-made global warming.
The lawsuit is slated to be the first against the agency under President Donald Trump’s new EPA head, Scott Pruitt. It seeks to protect salmon from rising water temperatures, which some scientists say is caused by climate change, in two major rivers of the Pacific Northwest.
If successful, the lawsuit will compel the agency to force dam operators in the Columbia and Snake watersheds of Washington state, Oregon and Idaho to manipulate river flows to keep waters cool for the salmon. The plaintiffs argue the requirement is warranted under the EPA’s Clean Waters Act.
The plaintiffs – including Idaho Rivers United and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations – believe the dams are artificially warming the waters. The only way to save the salmon, the lawsuit states, is for the EPA to intervene and force Washington, Idaho, and Oregon to act on the matter.
They also noted that Pruitt, a former Republican attorney general in Oklahoma, is a climate change skeptic who sued the EPA numerous times on behalf of the energy companies.
The lawsuit will almost certainly fail to enthuse the Pruitt-led EPA.
Pruitt criticized a former EPA chief during comments earlier this week, telling agency staff members that they would no longer allow environmental groups to negotiate with regulators behind closed doors.
“We avoid litigation, we avoid the uncertainty of litigation,” the former AG said.
Republicans criticized the EPA’s so-called sue-and-settle tactics as well, but also chastised EPA for using “secret science” to craft regulations – the tactic essentially allowed environmentalist groups to direct the agency’s regulations.
Pruitt has said numerous times that each state would be responsible for its own set of environmental regulations. The federal government will only be required to jump into the fray in extreme situations, he told staff during a speech Tuesday, .
“Federalism matters” is also a major catchphrase of Pruitt. He wants regional offices to work hand-in-glove with states to solve problems and avoid frivolous litigation.
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