After several years, it is still not decided how much fish a Washington resident eats.
In 2013, tribal and environmental groups spoke out against state standards which said that a normal resident eats 6.5 grams of fish a month, or roughly a single 8oz serving. The lawsuit said that if the fish consumption estimates were more realistic, officials would have to more strictly regulate emissions of mercury, lead and other toxins in the water.
Recent proposed changes would update that number to 175 grams a day, or a 6.5 oz serving of fish every day.
However, this change is not in effect, years after the issue was raised.
Several environmental groups have sued the Environmental Protection Agency for not updating Washington’s water-quality rules partly tied to how much fish people eat.
Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and other groups sued in federal court in Seattle, arguing the EPA has violated the law by not finalizing standards that adequately protect public health.
The state has been under pressure to write new water-quality rules that address how clean the state’s waters should be and limit pollutants that can be released into waterways. The state released a draft rule last month on what’s commonly known as the fish-consumption rule.
Last fall, the EPA stepped in and proposed its own rules for Washington in case the state doesn’t complete its process fast enough. The lawsuit says the federal agency should have finalized those rules in December and that any delay increases the harm to people.
An EPA spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the litigation.
The Department of Ecology has scheduled hearings on April 5, 6 and 7 regarding the rule changes. They expect to adopt a final rule in August 2016.