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Washington Journal of Environmental Law & Policy

Abstract

Part I of this paper discusses the threat ocean acidification poses to the Tulalip Tribes’ ability to practice and preserve its way of life. Part II examines the laws and legal structures, especially the Clean Water Act, that can simultaneously protect the Tulalip Tribes’ right to harvest shellfish at “usual and accustomed” shellfish beds and the health of Puget Sound’s waters as a whole. Finally, Part III proposes actions that can be taken at the state, tribal, and federal levels. First, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should develop criteria and water quality standards relevant to ocean acidification that can be applied throughout the country. In addition, the State of Washington should apply the current standards to its coastal waters so a workable Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plan can be implemented. Second, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington should be granted full status for purposes of section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act so that the Tribes can establish water quality standards and TMDL plans. Because of the Tulalip’s treaty protected interest in off-reservation shellfish beds, the water quality standards and TMDL plans should be extended to waters affecting those shellfish beds, as well. In addition, the federal government should fully fund the programs established by the Tulalip to protect their rights to shellfish. Finally, the federal government should extend funding to programs administered by the State of Washington that address ocean acidification on a state-wide level.

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