A national conservation group sued the Trump administration in a Portland federal court today for failing to address ocean acidification in Oregon's coastal waters.
The lawsuit comes four days after the White House's release of a massive climate impact report, which, in a chapter dedicated the Northwest, warns of the effects of global warming on Oregon's fishing industry.
Monday, however, President Donald Trump told reporters he didn't believe the catastrophic predictions in the climate report.
"Ocean acidification is wreaking havoc on Oregon's coastal waters while the Trump administration ignores the dire threat created by our fossil fuel addiction," Emily Jeffers, an attorney with the nonprofit said in a statement. "This pollution is already harming Oregon's oysters and plankton that whales and salmon depend on. We can protect water quality and coastal communities but only if federal officials address acidification before it gets worse."
Ocean acidification occurs when waters absorb carbon dioxide emissions—a byproduct of fossil fuel pollution. As the pH level of ocean water decreases, acid levels begin to erode shellfish shells and coral reefs. The Center for Biological Diversity predicts oceans currently absorb around 22 million tons of carbon dioxide daily.
According to today's release, Oregon's oyster farms began seeing acidification-related "mass mortalities" in 2005. Since then, Pacific Northwest ocean waters have experienced rates and magnitudes of acidification not expected until the end of the century.
In other parts of the world, low ocean pH levels also affect marine life like clownfish, who suffer "brain damage and behavioral problems because of corrosive waters."