Editorial: Tribes push for strong water standard in Oregon

"Oregon has a rich tradition of national environmental leadership — and it now includes the most rigorous standards for toxic water pollution in the United States.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week approved standards adopted earlier this year by the state Department of Environmental Quality. They apply to more than 100 pollutants — including mercury, flame retardants, PCBs, dioxins, plasticizers and pesticides — and are good news for current and future generations of Oregonians.

The standards stem from negotiations that began in 2004 when the EPA warned Oregon that its water standards failed to adequately protect Northwest Indian tribes that depend on fish from the state’s river, streams and lakes.

Oregon’s previous water standards were based on an estimate that people eat 17.5 grams of fish per day, or roughly two servings a month. That’s a reasonable estimate for most Oregonians, but it falls well short of the amount of fish consumed by Northwest tribes. The Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Nez Perce tribes estimate that their members consume an average of 175 grams per person daily, while the Umatilla tribe says its members consume more than 300 grams per day."

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EDITORIAL: Toughest in the nation (The Eugene Register-Guard 10/23)

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