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Environmental group forces regulators to improve river temperatures to aid fish

Portland-based Northwest Environmental Advocates is claiming victory in a lawsuit that will force state and federal regulators to impose more rigorous river temperature standards to protect endangered fish.

A federal judge on Wednesday signed an agreement between the advocacy group and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, after the group challenged EPA’s approval of Oregon’s water temperature standards.

   “For 20 years Oregon has tried – and repeatedly failed – to put standards in place that protect salmon, steelhead, and bull trout,” said Nina Bell, Northwest Environmental Advocates executive director. “We hope that the court’s order will usher in a new day in which the state of Oregon and the federal agencies take seriously their obligations to protect these threatened and endangered species from the most widespread pollution problem in Oregon: high water temperatures.”

Attorneys for Earthrise Law Center at Lewis and Clark Law School helped litigate the case. The ruling has national implications, said Earthrise attorney Allison LaPlant. “Importantly, the court ruled that EPA could not allow Oregon to essentially exempt the very human activities – logging and farming – that are causing high water temperatures across the state.”