Lynda Mapes gave a good report on the fish consumption rate debate in the Seattle Times, emphasizing the flexibility available in the process:
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued dozens of discharge permits since updating its standards in 2011, including permits for more than a half-dozen municipalities, a meatpacking plant and other industrial users. The path forward in Oregon required implementation of flexibility in setting timelines for compliance and variances, said Jennifer Wigal, water-quality program manager at the department.
A similar approach is in the works in Washington. Kelly Susewind, director of Washington Department of Ecology’s water-quality program, charged with drafting the regulations, said he wants to take the five-year time limits off compliance schedules and variances, to give regulators and dischargers a way to work out realistic solutions under new, more exacting standards.
Dennis McLerran, regional administrator for the Region 10 office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, whose approval is required for Ecology’s regulations, said he backs flexible implementation.
“We are interested in working with the state on a package of implementation tools that includes compliance schedules, variances, intake water credits, even how you look at some chemicals. But we want to make progress. Otherwise, why do it?”
One place he is not inclined to budge, though, McLerran said, is cancer risk, because implementing a higher risk would allow bigger inputs of some pollutants to local waters. That could put people who eat a lot of fish at higher risk — and compromise treaty-protected fishing rights.