An Earth Law Solution to Ocean Plastic Pollution

By Michelle Bender

 Photo by Michelle Bender

Photo by Michelle Bender

Plastic pollution is emerging as a top threat to ocean ecosystems. By 2025, there could be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish in the ocean. Plastic debris affects nearly 700 species worldwide through entanglement and ingestion, alters natural biological and chemical processes, provides a means for the introduction of toxins into the food web, and costs the U.S. economy millions of dollars annually. The majority of this debris comes from land-based sources (e.g., plastic manufacturers, processors, landfills, sewage overflows, litter). With only 14% of plastic packaging and containers recycled in the U.S., 75% of leakage is due to uncollected waste.

Past efforts to address plastic pollution have failed in stemming the flow from land to sea. As the only high income country listed in the top 20 contributors to ocean plastic pollution, the U.S. plays a critical role in managing the waste stream of plastics. The absence of a comprehensive plastic pollution law and policy framework provides an opportunity for federal agencies to explore how and whether existing law and policy mechanisms can be used to address the threat of plastic pollution. This report provides an example by analyzing the Clean Water Act and relevant provisions.

The inability of environmental law to address growing threats, such as plastic pollution, represents the need for a paradigm shift. The environmental laws of the 1970s have yet to fulfill their goals and purposes. The Clean Water act has yet to prohibit discharges and produce clean water because it allows pollution under permitting systems.

As a result, this report attempts to challenge our assumptions behind current environmental law by introducing Earth Law, a system of law that recognizes nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. An Earth Law approach would prohibit the discharge of plastic into our nation’s waterways by considering the health of all Earth members. Therefore, this report proposes that the threat of plastic pollution will only be controlled if humans govern themselves in a way that recognizes their relationship with nature.

I. Introduction

a. The problem

Scientific studies indicate that an emerging threat faces our freshwater and marine ecosystems: plastic pollution.[i] Since plastics are cheap, versatile and strong,[ii] and deliver significant societal benefits (e.g., energy savings, consumer protection, healthcare innovations),[iii] it comes as no surprise that plastic production has increased exponentially since the 1960’s.[iv] If current practices continue as usual, by 2025 there could be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish in the ocean.[v] With the ability to persist for up to 4 centuries,[vi] plastic products are harming freshwater and marine ecosystems.[vii]

b. Types of plastic

Plastics consist of a variety of synthetic organic polymers and additives, giving each plastic product its unique properties.[viii] Plastic is generally split into two categories: micro- and macro-plastics. Microplastics (e.g., pellets, granules) are smaller than 5 mm, found throughout the water column, and compose 95% of the plastics in the ocean.[ix] Not readily seen, they receive less attention than macroplastics, which are visible pieces of debris, larger than 5 mm, and usually found on surface water or coastal beaches.[x]

c. Impacts of plastic

Plastics pose a significant threat to ocean and freshwater ecosystems and the benefits humans receive from them.[xi] The amount of plastic debris discarded by the commercial fishing industry has doubled over the last 50 years (from 340,000 tons in 1975[xii] to 640,000 tons annually[xiii]).

First, plastics threaten the survival of many species of wildlife, negatively impacting nearly 700 species worldwide.[xiv]

  • Larger items, such as fishing nets, entangle and kill wildlife.[xv]
  • Smaller items ingested by wildlife lower fitness by decreasing fertility.[xvi]
  • As plastic breaks down, it becomes less buoyant and sinks to the ocean floor.[xvii] This can lead to hypoxia (oxygen deficiency), dead zones, and a shift in sediment properties necessary for sex- determination in animal eggs.[xviii]
  • Plastics transport invasive species.[xix] As a medium for long distance dispersion, plastics carry species to uninhabited areas where they compete with native species. For example, a study in the Western Atlantic showed insect eggs on 24% of the plastic pellets sampled.[xx]

Second, plastic products serve as a conduit for the release and travel of toxins into and through freshwater and marine food chains, posing a threat to wildlife, public health, and the fishing industry.

  • Plastic, mistaken as food, is ingested at all levels of the food web and travels through the food web via a process known as bioaccumulation (i.e., the accumulation of a substance in an organism’s tissue due to a greater intake rate than excretion or metabolic rate).[xxi]
  • Plastics cause two chemical impacts: the release of additives (e.g., BPA), and the attraction and subsequent release of toxins (e.g., DDT, PCBs).[xxii]
  • Plastic fragments can transport contaminants, increase their environmental persistence, and concentrate organic pollutants up to 106 times that of surrounding seawater.[xxiii] The chemicals present in plastic pollution, such as PCBs, lead to reproductive disorders or death, increase the risk of diseases and alter hormone levels.[xxiv]

Third, plastic pollution is costly.

  • Beach cleanups cost coastal communities millions of dollars each year.[xxv] For example, Texas spends approximately $14 million a year cleaning beaches; and San Francisco spends approximately $6 million per year picking up cigarette butts.[xxvi]
  • Plastics on beaches lower aesthetic value and therefore revenue for coastal communities and the tourism industry.[xxvii]
  • Losses to the fishing industry occur through vessel damage, decreased fertility and ghost fishing (i.e., the continued trapping and killing of marine life by discarded fishing net). In the U.S., an estimated $250 million worth of lobster is lost to ghost fishing annually and four to ten million blue crabs are trapped in ghost fishing gear each year in Louisiana.[xxviii]
  • Plastic litter fouls propellers and clogs the water intake of vessels.[xxix] This reduces fishing opportunities, and increases accidental death. In the U.S. alone, cleanup and boat repairs due to marine debris costs over $1 billion a year.[xxx]

d. The sources of plastic pollution

Rivers are highly polluted with plastic products from storm water runoff, wastewater and industrial effluent.[xxxi] As much as 80% of marine debris comes from land-based sources (e.g., plastic manufacturers, processors, landfills, sewage overflows, litter)[xxxii] and 60- 80% of all marine debris is plastic.[xxxiii]

Of the leakage that comes from land- based sources, 75% comes from uncollected wastes and 25% escape from within the waste management system.[xxxiv] Unfortunately, 80% of plastic waste is too low in value to incentivize recovery and recycling.[xxxv] As a result, an estimated 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010 and today there is an estimated 580,000 plastic pieces per square kilometer.[xxxvi]

II. Addressing plastic pollution through environmental law and policy

As the only high income country listed in the top 20 contributors to ocean plastic pollution, the U.S. plays a critical role in managing the waste stream of plastics.[xxxvii]

a. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the discharge of pollutants into our nation’s waters.[xxxviii] Despite a final rule in 1987 controlling the amount of resin released from plastic manufacturing facilities,[xxxix] data suggests that “pre-production plastic resin pellets accidentally released from plastic processors contribute approximately 10% by count to the plastic debris problem.”[xl]

So, water-quality-based effluent limits (WQBELs) can significantly reduce the discharge of plastic waste. This next line of defense is based on “the amount of pollutants in the water without regard to the cost or technology availability.”[xli]

b. Water Quality Standards

The EPA creates national water quality criteria standards—standards upon which States may choose to build in more stringent measures at the state level[xlii]— based upon the latest scientific knowledge on the effects of the presence of pollutants.[xliii]

Mounting scientific evidence indicates that plastic poses a threat to our nation’s drinkable, fishable, and swimmable waterways. This scientific information indicates that the water quality criteria should be reviewed to determine whether plastic should be considered a criteria pollutant.

The EPA already recognizes that most trash that ends up in the ocean comes from land. The agency has developed the Trash Free Waters initiative “to reduce the amount of trash and litter that enters streams and rivers, lakes and bays, beaches and coastlines, and ultimately the world’s oceans”[xliv] and the National Marine Debris Monitoring Program, to monitor the sources and end-life of trash.[xlv] These programs include outreach, education, research and partnerships,[xlvi] but fail to enforce change (e.g., regulations and initiatives) through their existing statutory authority.

c. Total Maximum Daily Loads

Next, States are required to identify impaired waters,[xlvii] those that do not meet water quality standards, and establish limits on pollutants causing the impairment.[xlviii]

Establishing nationwide limits on the amount of plastic allowed in watersheds can significantly reduce the flow from land to sea. Current impairment and allowable limits do not take into account microplastics because this form of trash (i.e., anthropogenic debris that can be trapped by a 5 mm mesh screen) is smaller than 5mm.[xlix]

For example, in the Los Angeles watershed, 90% of the plastic debris by count and 13% by weight is micro-plastic smaller than 5 mm, and goes unregulated and uncaptured.[l] In California and the North Pacific Gyre, densities of microplastics have tripled during the last decade.[li] The definition, then, fails to address the issue of plastic pollution, threatening the coastal waters of California.[lii]

Pacific-garbage-patch-map_2010_noaamdp.jpg

This presents an opportunity for the EPA to adopt a definition of Trash that includes micro-sized debris and therefore address the vast majority of plastic debris. Similarly, the EPA can initiate rulemaking for the implementation of Trash TMDL’s on all waterways,[liii] ensuring limits address trash of all sizes.

d. Multi-Sector General Permits

Under Section 205 of the Water Quality Act, which amended the Clean Water Act in 1987, the EPA created requirements for “storm water discharges associated with industrial activity”.[liv]

Therefore, more stringent requirements can be placed on plastic manufacturing facilities located on the coast to prevent the loss of pre- production plastic to storm water. The EPA can ensure the strongest control measures are attached to the permits in order to prevent the leakage of plastic from land to water. The EPA already requires that “facilities that handle pre-production plastic must implement best management practices (BMPs) to eliminate discharges of plastic in storm water.”[lv]

To promote further clarity and compliance, the EPA can codify required practices for implementation by pre-productions plastic facilities rather than leave it to be determined on a facility-by-facility basis as is the current practice. Evidence suggests “pre-production resin pellets accidentally released from plastic processors contribute approximately 10% by count to the plastic debris problem.”[lvi] Yet, California is the only state to regulate pre-production plastic[lvii] under state implementation of the CWA.

Regulation and 1 mm mesh screens downstream could significantly reduce the flow of plastic pollution.

Under the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the Preproduction Plastic Debris Program controls the leakage of preproduction plastics[lviii] by requiring plastic manufacturing, handling, and transportation facilities to implement[lix] minimum BMPs to control discharge.[lx] As part of the permits, a 1mm mesh screen must be installed downstream from all preproduction plastic locations.[lxi]

If this program were implemented nationwide, the amount of pre-production plastic found in our waterways could be greatly decreased. Additionally, if MSGP permits included minimum BMPs and the requirement of 1 mm mesh screens downstream from facilities; General Permits would help reduce the flow of plastic pollution.

III. An opportunity for Earth Law to address plastic pollution

Earth Law (i.e., Jurisprudence) is an emerging field seeking to address the fundamental flaws of current environmental law and policy. This form of law explicitly recognizes “the interdependence among humans and the environment” and respects ecosystem relationships.

With an overarching purpose to support “a mutually beneficial relationship between humanity and the community of life on Earth,” humans govern themselves in ways, which benefit all beings and ecosystems.[lxii]

Earth Law governs humans as co-equal parts with other Earth members due to the assumption that all beings have the same fundamental rights.

Earth Law governs humans as co-equal parts with other Earth members due to the assumption that all beings have the same fundamental rights.[lxiii] This idea stems from a basic flow of logic: “Rights originate where existence originates. That which determines existence determines rights,” and all members come from the same place of existence, Mother Earth.[lxiv] Just as humans have rights based on our existence and being, so too does nature.

Thomas Berry defines rights as the freedom for all beings to fulfill their duties and responsibilities in the Earth community. In particular, there are three rights for every member: the right to be, the right to habitat and the right to fulfill its role in the ever-renewing processes of the Earth community.[lxv] As co-equal members, humans “have no right to prevent other components of the Earth community from fulfilling their evolutionary role.”[lxvi] Therefore, Earth Law establishes nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve in environmental law and policy.

a. Earth Law as a rights-based movement (the necessity of conferring rights onto nature)

An Earth-rights movement is not merely an attempt to create new laws or change existing laws, it seeks to change our worldview and values.

As Christopher Stone writes, a rights-based movement is one that seeks to give rights to a new entity, those traditionally not seen to have any.[lxvii] Only when we confer rights onto a new member of the Earth community, human or non-human, can we guarantee it equal status as other right bearing entities.[lxviii]

Consider the Endangered Species Act.[lxix] Its goals and purposes make it seem like we have given species the right to life (i.e., not go extinct). However, when citizens bring suit for violations, they can only show “standing”[lxx] if they themselves have been injured and their injury can be redressed, with nothing to do with the injury to the species.

If animals and plants are given rights then they themselves will have standing, allowing citizens to speak on their behalf to ensure their rights are not violated. This may seem absurd or unthinkable, but throughout history, the extension of rights to a new entity has always seemed crazy to some (e.g., people of color, women and the LGBT community).[lxxi]

There will always be resistance to considering a historically viewed “object” as a co-equal part the Earth community.[lxxii] Therefore, the emerging Earth-rights movement seeks to illustrate nature as valued for itself, no longer viewed as an object or property, but as a subject with rights.[lxxiii]

b. Addressing the economic system

Another essential component of Earth Law is the qualitative, not quantitative, difference in rights. All rights are species specific (i.e., rivers have river rights, insects have insect rights and humans have human rights), but one is not superior to another. As a result, economic considerations (e.g., cost-benefit analysis) are left out of policy discussions. Unrestrained economic growth can be attributed to the present decline in our natural systems.[lxxiv]

Particularly, the use of cost-benefit analysis (CBA) reinforces our assumptions that nature is a resource to be controlled. CBA requires that we convert the benefits of nature (e.g., clean water, biodiversity) into dollars. It does not allow nature to be valued for itself. Earth law addresses this fundamental flaw by advancing economics in a way that improves relationships (i.e., ecological economics).

By changing the language of “natural capital” and “ecosystem services” to “natural worth” and “ecosystem integrity,” economics stops reinforcing nature as a resource and property. As a result, the economic system serves the law, not the other way around.

c. Earth Law Center Ocean Initiative: Earth Law in practice

The first step in applying the holistic principles of Earth Law to ocean health would be to create an Earth Law framework. Earth Law Center will be launching the final version at EarthX in April 2018, see here for the draft version.

An Earth Law approach aims to benefit the whole Earth community (i.e., humans, fish, water, birds): To ensure all waters are healthy and thriving; meaning water quality is such that:

a) All Earth members’ rights of water as a source of life is not violated;

b) Waters remain free of contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;

c) Biological, physical, chemical and ecological processes which rely on water continue without human disruption and;

d) Future generations are ensured the same inherent rights.[cvii]                               

States could include an Earth Law approach when revising or adopting water quality standards.[i] New standards are to be “based upon their uses” and “shall be such as to protect the public health or welfare, enhance the quality of water and serve the purposes of this Act.”[ii] Water quality standards are based upon our use of water, underscoring the assumption that nature is an object.

Additionally, the use of “enhance” signifies that the water quality is already degraded and needs to be improved, and that pollution has already occurred. From an Earth Law perspective, such language is unnecessary because discharge would not occur at levels that would require enhancement (if discharge is allowed at all). This is because an Earth Law-based approach would create water quality standards based on the best and most recent science determining what keeps water and species healthy:

E.g., Water quality standards shall be based upon levels necessary to maintain a healthy and thriving body of water and to not only protect the health of the water, but the health of all Earth members whom depend on the water as their source of life.

Earth-based language in the Clean Water Act would ensure the rights of water, humans, wildlife, plants, and vital systems that rely on healthy water. Water has the right to be water; just like humans have the right to be human. Also, water has the right to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions; humans have the right to drink uncontaminated water and eat toxin-fee fish; fish have the right to reproduce and be healthy.

By incorporating nature’s rights into the Clean Water Act, discharge would be managed based on what allows the water and all organisms whom depend on the water to be healthy. Arguably, this would mean not allowing plastic discharges into waterways and would surely require the regulation of microplastic pollutants.

IV. Conclusion

The CWA set the goal of attaining water quality standards by 1983. This date is over 30 years past due.

Between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste entered the ocean in 2010.[i] As a result, plastic pollution is degrading water quality, affecting biodiversity[ii] and posing potential human health impacts.

The CWA set the goal of attaining water quality standards by 1983. This date is over 30 years past due. Of the water bodies assessed, 54.9% of rivers and streams, 69% of lakes, 78.4% of bays and estuaries and 88.9% of the coastal shoreline are listed as impaired nationally.[iii] The assumption that certain levels of pollution are acceptable as long as it is “permitted,” underscores the flaws of our current governance system.

By establishing legal systems that recognize that the health and welfare of humans is dependent on our interconnected relationships within the Earth community, systemic problems, such as plastic pollution will be addressed. It’s time to further evolve the protection of the ocean. Our lives, health and well-being depend on the health of the environment.


[i] George Leonard & Andreas Merkl, Confronting Ocean Plastic Pollution at the Global Scale: New Insights and Strategic Opportunities, 1 (2015) (internal document).

[ii] Id. at 3.

[iii] The Declaration of The Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter, available at http://www.marinedebrissolutions.com/Declaration.

[iv] Jenna R. Jambeck et al., Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into the Ocean, 347 Science 768, 768 (2015) (Global plastic resin production increased by 620% from 1975 to 2012); Ocean Conservancy, Stemming the Tide: Land- based Strategies for a Plastic- Free Ocean, 4 (2015), available at http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our-work/marine-debris/mckinsey-report-files/full-report-stemming-the.pdf (With current production at 250 million tons this trend is expected to continue to 380 million tons produced by 2025).

[v] Leonard, supra at 3.

[vi] Ocean Conservancy, supra at 3 (2015).

[vii] For more information on the plastic products found in freshwater ecosystems see Martine Wagner et al., Microplastics in Freshwater Ecosystems: What We Know and What We Need to Know, 26 Environmental Sciences Europe 12, (2014).; Jessica Midbust et al., Reducing Plastic Debris in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel River Watersheds, Algalita Marine Research Institute (2014), available at http://www.bren.ucsb.edu/research/2014Group_Projects/documents/Bren-Group-Project-Thesis-Reducing-Plastic-Debris-in-the-Los-Angeles-and-San-Gabriel-River-W.pdf.; For more information on plastic products found in marine ecosystems see Chris Wilcox et al., Threat of Plastic Pollution to Seabirds is Global, Pervasive, and Increasing, PNAS Early Edition 1, (2015). Ocean Conservancy, supra.; Donald C. Baur & Suzanna Iudicello, Stemming the Tide of Marine Debris Pollution: Putting Domestic and International Control Authorities to Work, 17 Ecology L.Q. 71, (1990).; Jambeck, supra at 768.

[viii]José G.B. Derraik, The Pollution of the Marine Environment by Plastic Debris: A Review, 44 Mar. Pol. Bol. 842, 842 (2002).

[ix]Juliana A. Ivar do Sul & Monica F. Costa, The Present and Future of Microplastic Pollution in the Marine Environment, 185 Mar. Pol. Bul. 352, 352 (2014).; Ocean Conservancy, supra at 11.

[x] Matthew Cole et al., Microplastic as Contaminants in the Marine Environment: A Review, 62 Mar. Pol. Bul. 2588, 2589 (2011).

[xi] Ocean Conservancy, supra at 6.

[xii] F, S.C Gall & R.C. Thompson, The Impact of Debris on Marine Life, 92 Mar. Pol. Bul. 170, 170 (2015).

[xiii] Baur, supra at 82. (An estimated 50,000 fur seals from the Pribilof Islands population in the North Pacific Ocean die each year from entanglement). 

[xiv] Peter Kershaw et al., Plastic Debris in the Ocean, UNEP Year Book. 21, 26-28 (2011) (Studies link plastics to physiological stress, liver cancer, and endocrine dysfunction (female fertility and male reproductive tissues growth) in fish that ingest the plastic).

[xv] Murray R. Gregory, Environmental Implications of Plastic Debris in Marine Settings- Entanglement, Ingestion, Smothering, Hangers- on, Hitch- Hiking and Alien Invasions (2009), available at http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1526/2013.; Derraik, supra at 844.

(Plastic on the seafloor provides a barrier that inhibits gas exchange processes between the water and seafloor which leads to hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) and dead zones).

[xvi] Gregory, supra..; Derraik, supra at 844

(Plastic on the seafloor provides a barrier that inhibits gas exchange processes between the water and seafloor which leads to hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) and dead zones).; Cole, supra at 2592 (2011) (Plastics significantly alter the composition and properties of the seabed by increasing the permeability of sediment while decreasing its heat absorbance. Therefore sediment with plastics reaches lower maximal temperatures. This temperature difference may affect sex- determination in animal eggs, such as turtles).

[xvii] Ivar do Sul & Monica F. Costa, supra at 353.

[xviii] Id. at 353.

[xix] Cole, supra at 2589.

[xx] Kershaw, supra at 25-27.

[xxi] Ivar do Sul, supra at 353.; Chris Wilcox et al., Threat of Plastic Pollution to Seabirds is Global, Pervasive, and Increasing, PNAS Early Edition 1, 4 (2015).

[xxii] Derraik, supra at 846.

[xxiii] Charles James Moore, Synthetic Polymers in the Marine Environment: A Rapidly Increasing, Long- Term Threat, 108 Env. Res. 131, 133 (2008).

[xxiv] Baur, supra at 81.; UNEP & NOAA, The Honolulu Strategy: A Global Framework for Prevention and Management of Marine Debris, 9 (2011), available at http://www.unep.org/esm/Portals/50159/Honolulu%20Strategy%20Final.pdf.

[xxv] Moore, supra at 133..; Kershaw, supra at 28.

[xxvi] Baur, supra at 78.

[xxvii] United Nations, Resumed Review Conference on the Agreement Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, 3 (2010), available at http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/reviewconf/FishStocks_EN_A.pdf.

[xxviii] Derraik, supra.

[xxix] UNEP & NOAA, supra at 8.

[xxx] Kershaw, supra at 28.

[xxxi] Ocean Conservancy, Trash Travels: From our Hands to the Sea, Around the Globe, and Through Time 2010, at 17, http://act.oceanconservancy.org/images/2010ICCReportRelease_pressPhotos/2010_ICC_Report.pdf.

[xxxii] Algalita, Credible Information and Statistics: The Magnitude of Plastic Debris (Dec. 1, 2015, 11:11 AM), http://www.algalita.org/credible-information-and-statistics/.

[xxxiii] Cole, supra at 2590.

[xxxiv] Baur, supra at 78..; Leonard, supra at 2.

[xxxv] Derraik, supra at 843.

[xxxvi] Ocean Conservancy, supra at 13.

[xxxvii] Id.

[xxxviii] Id. at 8.

[xxxix] Jambeck, supra at 770; Wilcox, supra at 1.

[xl] Jambeck, supra at 770.

[xli] Id. at 769.

[xlii] Baur, supra at 84.

[xliii] Earth law is an emerging body of law which establishes nature’s right to exist, thrive and evolve.

[xliv] Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 534, 127 S.Ct. 1438, 167 L.Ed.2d 248 (2007) (“EPA [cannot] avoid its statutory obligation by noting the uncertainty surrounding various features of climate change and concluding that it would therefore be better not to regulate at this time.”).

[xlv] 33 U.S.C. § 1311.; 40 CFR § 414.11.

[xlvi] § 1311(b, e); § 1314(b); § 1311(b)(2)(A).

[xlvii] § 1312(b)(2)(A); Natural Resources Defense Council v. U.S. EPA, 804 F.3d 149, 151 (2d Cir. R. 2015).

[xlviii] Organic Chemicals and Plastics and Synthetic Fibers Category Effluent Limitations Guidelines, Pretreatment Standards, and New Source Performance Standards, 52 FR 42522-01 (1987), WL 40 CFR 414 and 416.

[xlix] Moore, supra at 137.

[l] § 1311, 1342.

[li] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Recommended Water Quality Criteria- Aquatic Life Criteria Table (Dec. 1, 2015, 3:36 PM), http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/standards/criteria/current/index.cfm.

[lii] § 1313(c).

[liii] § 1313.

[liv] § 1313(c).

[lv] Center for Biological Diversity, Petition for Water Quality Criteria for Plastic Pollution Under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1314 (2012), available at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/pdfs/Petition_Plastic_WQC_08-22-2012.pdf.; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Recommended Water Quality Criteria- Aquatic Life Criteria Table (Dec. 1, 2015, 3:36 PM), http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/standards/criteria/current/index.cfm

[lvi] § 1314(a)(1).

[lvii] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Marine Debris (Nov. 10, 2015, 3:30 PM), http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/marinedebris/.

[lviii] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Marine Debris Laws and Regulations (Nov. 30, 2015, 2:49 PM), http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/marinedebris/lawsregs.cfm.

[lix] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Marine Debris (Nov. 10, 2015, 3:30 PM), http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/marinedebris/.

[lx] Known as section 303(d) listed waters.

[lxi] § 1313(d).

[lxii] § 1313(d).

[lxiii] Angela George and Linda L. Miller, Compliance with Trash TMDLs: Ten Years of Experience from Los Angeles County Unincorporated Areas, Department of Public Works (2014), available at https://www.casqa.org/sites/default/files/downloads/2-county_of_la_presentation-casqa_trash_webinar_7-29-14.pdf (Trash TMDL compliance in California generally involves the implementation of full capture or partial capture systems (combination of full capture and institutional measures), with 5 mm mesh screens. To date, California has spent approximately $7 million in installing these devices).

[lxiv] Moore, supra at 136 (according to the CA Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region).

[lxv] Id.

[lxvi] Resolution of the California Ocean Protection Council on Reducing and Preventing Marine Debris (2007), available at http://www.opc.ca.gov/webmaster/ftp/pdf/docs/Documents_Page/Resolutions/MarineDebris_Resolution.pdf.

[lxvii] Shavonne K. Stanek et al., Microplastic Contamination in San Francisco Bay (Nov. 30, 2015, 2:52 PM), http://www.sfei.org/sites/default/files/biblio_files/RMP15%20SOE%20Micoplastic%20Sutton%20FINAL%209-15%20%281%29.pdf.

[lxviii] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Water Quality Assessment Report (Dec. 2, 2015, 9:24 AM), http://iaspub.epa.gov/tmdl_waters10/attains_state.control?p_state=CA, (California causes of impairment for 303(d) listed waters: 46 have been reported due to trash).

[lxix] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Causes of Impairment for Reporting Year 2012 (Dec. 2, 2015, (9:25 AM), http://iaspub.epa.gov/tmdl_waters10/attains_state.control?p_state=CA#causes.

[lxx] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Causes of Impairment for Reporting Year 2012 (Dec. 2, 2015, (9:25 AM), http://iaspub.epa.gov/tmdl_waters10/attains_state.control?p_state=CA#causes.

[lxxi] Wagner, supra at 12.; Kershaw, supra at 25-28.

[lxxii] Ivar do Sul & Monica F. Costa, supra at 359.

[lxxiii] Kershaw, supra at 25-28.

[lxxiv] 40 CFR § 401.15.

[lxxv] Wagner, supra at 17.

[lxxvi] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2015 Multi- Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (MSGP)- Fact Sheet, 4 (2015), available at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/msgp2015_fs.pdf.

[lxxvii] Id.

[lxxviii] Id. at 7.

[lxxix] Id. at 4.

[lxxx] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2015 Multi- Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (MSGP)- Fact Sheet, 5 (2015), available at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/msgp2015_fs.pdf.

[lxxxi] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Multi- Sector general Permit for Stromwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (MSGP), 4 (2015), available at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/msgp2015_finalpermit.pdf (Endangered and Threatened Species and Critical Habitat Protection. Coverage under this permit is available only if your stormwater discharges, allowable non-stormwater discharges, and stormwater discharge-related activities were the subject of an Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation or an ESA section 10 permit, or if your stormwater discharges, allowable non-stormwater discharges, and stormwater discharge-related activities are not likely to adversely affect any species that are federally listed as endangered or threatened (“listed”) and are not likely to adversely affect habitat that is designated as “critical habitat” under the ESA. You must meet one of the criteria below, following the procedures in Appendix E).; For appendix E see: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Appendix E- Procedures Relating to Endangered Species Protection, (2015), available at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/msgp2015_appendixe-2.pdf.

[lxxxii] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2015 Multi- Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (MSGP)- Fact Sheet, 5 (2015), available at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/msgp2015_fs.pdf.

[lxxxiii] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Multi- Sector general Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity (MSGP), 15-16 (2015), available at http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/msgp2015_parts1-7.pdf.

[lxxxiv] Id (Section 2.1.2.2).

[lxxxv] Id (Section 2.1.2).

[lxxxvi] Moore, supra at 137.

[lxxxvii] J. M. Organ, Limitations on State Agency Authority to Adopt Environmental Standards More Stringent than Federal Standards: Policy Considerations and Interpretive Problems, 54 Md. L. Rev. 1373, 1374 (1995),

available at http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/mlr/vol54/iss4/9 (Federal Water Pollution Control Act 33 U.S.C. § 1370 (1972) (Authorizes States to adopt or enforce standards or limitations that are more, but not less, stringent than any effluent limitation, effluent standard, prohibition, pretreatment standard, or standard of performance in effect under the Clean Water Act).

[lxxxviii] § 13367 (a) (Preproduction plastic includes plastic resin pellets and powdered coloring for plastics).

[lxxxix] § 13367 (c).

[xc] § 13367.

[xci] § 13367 (d)(1).

[xcii] Id.; Earth Day Revisited, supra.

[xciii] Cormac Cullinan, Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice 44 (2 ed. 2011).

[xciv] Cormac Cullinan, Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice 44 (2 ed. 2011).

[xcv] Id. at 103.

[xcvi] Id. at 101.

[xcvii] Id. at 102.

[xcviii] Christopher D. Stone, Should Trees Have Standing?- Toward Legal Rights For Natural Objects, 450 Southern California Law Review 45, 455 1972).

[xcix] Cynthia Giagnocavo & Howard Goldstein, Law Reform or World Re-form: The Problem of Environmental Rights, 345 McGill Law Journal 35, 345 (1989-1990).

[c] Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C § 1531 (1973).

[ci] Sierra Club V. Morton, 405 U.S. 727 (1972) (dissenting opinion).

[cii] Stone, supra at 453.

[ciii] For examples see Stone, supra at 453- 454.

[civ] Stone, supra at 456.

[cv] Koons, supra at 357.

[cvi] 33 U.S.C. § 1251(a)(2).

[cvii] Paul Emond, Co-operation in Nature: A New Foundation for Environmental Law, 342 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 22, No.2, 347 (1984).

[cviii] § 1313.

[cix] § 1313(c)(2)(A).

[cx] § 1311(b, e); § 1314(b); § 1311(b)(2)(A).

[cxi] Jambeck, supra at 770.

[cxii] UNEP & NOAA, The Honolulu Strategy: A Global Framework for Prevention and Management of Marine Debris, 5 (2011), available at http://www.unep.org/esm/Portals/50159/Honolulu%20Strategy%20Final.pdf.   

[cxiii] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Summary of State Information (Dec. 1, 2015, 3:34 PM), http://iaspub.epa.gov/tmdl_waters10/attains_nation_cy.control

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