Biological Opinion - Consultation on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Proposed Approval of the State of Alaska’s Mixing Zone Regulation Section of the State of Alaska’s Water Quality Standards

July 02, 2019

(Reinitiation) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve revisions to the State of Alaska’s mixing zone regulation section of the State of Alaska Administrative Code (18 AAC 70.240) for Alaska Water Quality Standards (WQS) (18 AAC 70) that were adopted into Alaska law on March 23, 2006 (hereafter referred to as the MZR). By letter dated August 14, 2006, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) formally submitted the newly adopted MZR to EPA for approval. ECO Number: AKRO-2018-00362

In this document, the action agency is EPA, which proposes to approve the MZR. The consulting agency for this proposed action is NMFS’s Alaska Region. This document represents NMFS’s biological opinion (opinion) on the effects of this action on endangered and threatened species and designated critical habitats under NMFS’s jurisdiction.

As described in more detail below, in 2006 NMFS first completed section 7 consultation on the effects of the proposed action on ESA-listed species and their critical habitat. Consultation was reinitiated in 2010 to the address effects of the proposed action on the newly listed endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, and we issued a biological opinion the same year. The 2010 opinion (NMFS Consultation Number: AKR-2010-6742) did not address the effects of the proposed action on Cook Inlet beluga whale critical habitat, which NMFS designated in 2011. This was the impetus behind EPA’s subsequent request for reinitiation of consultation and our issuance of this opinion.

The opinion and ITS were prepared by NMFS in accordance with section 7(b) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531–1544), and implementing regulations at 50 CFR Part 402. The opinion and ITS are in compliance with the Data Quality Act (44 U.S.C. 3504(d)(1)) and underwent pre-dissemination review.

Action Agency: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Last updated by Alaska Regional Office on 11/22/2019

Section 7 Consultation Biological Opinions Cook Inlet Beluga Whale