Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
1. This information may be useful to scientists involved in studying mechanisms of carbon dioxide absorption, conversion, and retention in marine waters as well as those studying the effects of the formation of carbonic acids and lowered pH on altered carbon cycles and carbonate structures necessary to aquatic life.
2. This information may be useful to Federal, State, Tribal, and Territorial managers of water quality programs.
3. This information may be useful to ocean and coastal managers.
Information submitted in response to this NODA should address the nature and characteristics of altered carbon chemistry in marine waters, including changes in pH and biological calcification processes. It should also address the significance of potential modification to the national marine pH criterion for State and Federal Water Programs authorized by the Clean Water Act. EPA is soliciting additional scientific information, data and ideas for effective strategies for Federal, State, and local officials to use to address the potential impacts of ocean acidification. Specifically:
1. EPA is soliciting technical information on measurement of ocean acidification in marine coastal waters, including:
a. Technological advances in rapid, continuous, or remote measurement of pH;
b. Long-term empirical pH data and carbon chemistry measurements, especially those that may demonstrate ocean acidification;
c. Empirical data to demonstrate spatial and temporal variability of pH in near-coastal waters;
d. Methods to statistically evaluate variability of pH in near-coastal waters;
e. Other approaches (
2. EPA is soliciting technical information on effects of ocean acidification on marine biota, including:
a. Survival, growth, reproduction, and recruitment of reef-building corals and crustose coralline algae;
b. Anticipated persistence of coral reef communities under future pH scenarios;
c. Survival, growth, reproduction, and recruitment of other (non-coral) marine calcifying organisms;
d. Potential changes in community structure and marine trophic links;
e. Variability of effects in tropical, temperate and polar regions;
f. Estimates of response rates (
g. Adaptability to ocean acidification and broad implications for ecosystem resilience;
h. Methods or estimates of the combined and relative importance of ocean acidification in concert with other natural and anthropogenic stressors (
3. EPA is soliciting scientific views on the information presented in the bibliography of this notice.
4. EPA is soliciting information related to EPA's current CWA 304(a) recommended pH criterion for marine waters, including how the criterion could be best expressed, particularly with respect to natural variability.
5. EPA is soliciting information regarding State and Territorial implementation of the pH criterion related to new information on ocean acidification.
6. EPA is soliciting potential strategies for State and Federal water programs to coordinate and enhance Federal data collection efforts, including:
a. Approaches to designated uses for water quality standards that account for different pH regimes (
b. Scientifically defensible approaches to set and monitor pH criteria.
7. EPA is soliciting information that may be used to develop guidance and information on ocean acidification pursuant to Clean Water Act Section 304(a)(2) for States and the public. This information may include information on the mechanisms of ocean acidification, methodology development for analysis, and statistical analysis.
Ocean acidification refers to the decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO
Biological effects are projected based on models that predict lower pH regimes in marine waters over the next 50-100 years. Using these predictions, reduced pH conditions and/or increased CO
Current research indicates the impact of ocean acidification on marine organisms will largely be negative, and the impacts may differ from one life stage to another. There may be interactions between CO
The first comprehensive national study of how CO
EPA is currently involved in a number of initiatives both solely and in partnership with other Federal agencies. Below is a list of current and future projects related to the issue of ocean acidification, the development of biocriteria to help classify and protect marine resources, and tools for the assessment of potential impacts to marine resources that comprise marine designated uses.
• EPA released the “Stony Coral Rapid Bioassessment Protocol” (RBP); EPA/600/R-06/167, July 2007, which provides a methodology for assessing the health and condition of stony corals, calcifying organisms that are sensitive to ocean acidification. Use of the RBP by interested States and Territories provides the ability to establish a baseline for coral reef structural health, provides the capacity to derive biocriteria for corals and reef structures, and provides a scientifically defensible method for assessing use attainment in marine waters, as well as evaluating the impact of stressors, such as ocean acidification on corals and coral reef structures.
• EPA is also developing a technical guidance framework to aid States and Territories in their development, adoption, and implementation of coral reef biocriteria in their respective water quality standards. EPA plans to publish this coral biocriteria framework document by December 2009 to assist in this effort. This document will complement the “Stony Coral Rapid Bioassessment Protocol” (RBP) described above.
• EPA has supported the development of the Coral Mortality and Bleaching Output (COMBO) model to project the effects of climate change on coral reefs by calculating impacts from changing sea surface temperature and CO
• The Coastal Research and Monitoring Strategy presents a basic assessment of the Nation's coastal research and monitoring needs, and recommends an integrated framework to address the needs of the Nation and the coastal States and Tribes in order to protect vital coastal resources.
• The National Coastal Condition Report III (NCCR III), December 2008, is the third in a series of reports describing the ecological health of U.S. coastal waters at a regional and national scale. First issued in 2001 and updated periodically thereafter, the NCCR is one of only a few statistically-significant measures of U.S. water quality on a nationwide basis. NCCR III assesses the condition of the Nation's coastal waters, including Alaska and Hawaii, based primarily on coastal monitoring data collected in 2001 and 2002. It presents an analysis of temporal changes in estuarine condition from 1990 to 2002 for the Nation's coastal waters and by region.
• EPA, working with other Federal agencies, as well as State, regional, and local partners, undertakes site-specific monitoring of coastal and ocean waters. For example, EPA and the State of Florida, in consultation with NOAA, implement the Water Quality Protection Program (WQPP) for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The WQPP includes a water quality monitoring program which has funded three long-term monitoring projects: overall water quality; coral reef and hardbottom community health; and seagrass community health.
Water quality criteria are scientifically derived values that protect aquatic life or human health from the deleterious effects of pollutants in ambient water.
Section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act requires EPA to develop and publish and, from time to time, revise, criteria for water quality accurately reflecting the latest scientific knowledge. Water quality criteria developed under section 304(a) are based solely on data and scientific judgments on the relationship between pollutant concentrations and environmental and human health effects. Section 304(a) criteria do not reflect consideration of economic impacts or the technological feasibility of meeting the chemical concentrations in ambient water. Section 304(a)(2) requires EPA to develop and publish and, from time to time, revise, information, including information on factors necessary to restore and maintain the integrity of navigable waters, ground waters, waters of the contiguous zone, and the oceans; protection and propagation of shellfish, fish, and wildlife; and measurement and classification of water quality.
Section 304(a) recommended criteria provide guidance to States and authorized Tribes in adopting water quality standards that ultimately provide a basis for controlling discharges or releases of pollutants. The criteria also provide guidance to EPA when promulgating Federal regulations under section 303(c) when such action is necessary.
Under the CWA and its implementing regulations, States and authorized Tribes are to adopt water quality criteria to protect designated uses (
EPA's current CWA 304(a) recommended criterion for marine pH states: “pH range of 6.5 to 8.5 for marine aquatic life (but not varying more than 0.2 units outside of the normally occurring range)”. This criterion applies to open-ocean waters within 3 miles of a State or Territory's shoreline where the depth is substantially greater than the euphotic zone.
On December 17, 2007, EPA received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity asking EPA to revise its recommended national marine pH water quality criterion for the protection of aquatic life and also asked EPA to publish information and provide guidance on ocean acidification.
Following careful consideration of the petitioner's request and supporting information, EPA is issuing this notice to solicit additional scientific information and data to fill data gaps to inform EPA's next steps and determine whether changes in existing criteria are warranted.
In this NODA, EPA is only requesting information and data relevant to addressing ocean acidification under the CWA. After the comment period closes on this NODA, EPA plans to evaluate the information received in considering whether the revision of the recommended marine pH criterion is warranted at this time. EPA intends to make final its decision regarding the evaluation of the information received within one year. If necessary, additional public review and comment will be requested during revision of the pH criterion.