Idaho back to the drawing board, regional tribes urge action (round up from Columbia Basin Bulletin on fish consumption rates)

The CBB has a great roundup of recent developments in fish consumption rates in the Northwest. First, is the federal Environmental Protection Agency sending Idaho back to the drawing board with their low fish consumption rate:

Although the decision has only recently surfaced, EPA in May “…disapproved Idaho’s revised human health criteria for 88 toxic pollutants applicable to all surface waters” in the state.

Bussell said Idaho did not consider several sources of information before submitting water quality standards that used the national default fish consumption rate of 17.5 grams per day (about the amount of fish that would sit on a saltine cracker).

EPA suggested Idaho use available and relevant information on fish consumption, including the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission survey, which Bussell described as “a well-designed survey … directly applicable to a population of people – i.e., the Nez Perce Tribe – fishing in state waters.”

Also, regional tribes meeting at the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians fall convention in Pendleton passed a resolution on fish consumption rates:

…tribal leaders attending the annual conference of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians in Pendleton on Thursday passed a resolution asking EPA to take a “regional approach” that would set Washington and Idaho in line with stricter rules established in 2011 by the state of Oregon. Oregon has the highest fish consumption rate in the United States.

Leaders from two Washington tribes told McLerran that they would not be involved in a process driven by stakeholders, demanding instead to deal with the state on a government-to-government basis.

“I get you guys are mad,” McLerran said, suggesting that state and tribal staffs might be able to work through some issues.

“My fear is that if you are not there in the process then it won’t reflect your point of view,” McLerran said. “The process will suffer if you are not there.”

Noting that Oregon has set the bar for fish consumption rates, McLerran said he would favor a regional approach, but noted that other Northwest states and Alaska present “much more of a different political lift.”

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