A coalition of environmental groups and individuals has won a lawsuit in federal district court that will require the US Environmental Protection Agency to update its decades-old regulations on the use of toxic chemical dispersants in oil spill responses.
In June 2020, as part of this case, US District Court Judge William Orrick ruled that the Clean Water Act imposes on the EPA a duty to maintain an up-to-date plan for oil-spill response that reflects current science and technology.
This includes science demonstrating that dispersant chemicals are toxic to humans and ecologically damaging.
This week’s ruling, also by Judge Orrick, says the EPA violated that duty by failing to update the regulations in more than 25 years.
The EPA must now update and finalize its regulations by May 31, 2023.
“This ruling sets us on a path toward protecting the health and wellbeing of our waters, wildlife and people from exposure to dangerous dispersant chemicals that exacerbate the toxicity of oil,” said Pamela Miller, executive director of plaintiff Alaska Community Action on Toxics.