(Beyond Pesticides, February 8, 2010) The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week. The lawsuit argues that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act when it approved 394 pesticides known to be harmful to humans and wildlife, without consulting with wildlife regulatory agencies as to the pesticides’ effects on endangered species. By registering pesticides known to harm migratory birds the EPA has also violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, according to the suit.
The pesticides named in the suit pose a danger not only to wildlife, but to human health as well. Some of the pesticides named include 2,4-D the most commonly used pesticide in the nonagricultural sector, atrazine, triclosan, and pyrethrins.
Jeff Miller, conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said, “It’s time for the Environmental Protection Agency to finally reform pesticide use to protect both wildlife and people…Many endangered species most affected by toxic pesticides are already struggling to cope with habitat loss and rapid climate changes. For too long this agency’s oversight has been abysmal, allowing the pesticide industry to unleash a virtual plague of toxic chemicals into our environment.”
The suit names 887 threatened and endangered species registered under the Endangered Species Act, including the beluga whale, Florida panther, whooping crane, and American crocodile.
According to the lawsuit, EPA violated section 2 of the Endangered Species Act when it failed to “seek to conserve endangered species and threatened species.” Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act requires the EPA to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service when registering, reregistering, or determining the approved use of a pesticide that may harm a listed species or damage its critical habitat. The Center for Biological Diversity alleges the EPA has consistently failed to evaluate or regulate the pesticides harmful to endangered species.
In 2004, the Center for Biological Diversity published Silent Spring Revisited: Pesticide Use and Endangered Species. The study describes how the EPA, especially under the Bush Administration, has consistently disregarded the regulations put forth under the Endangered Species Act, and put the interests of the agrochemical industry above the natural environment and human health.
There are currently over 18,000 pesticides registered by the EPA, nearly five billion pounds of pesticides are used each year. The Center for Biological Diversity has filed previous suites to protect endangered species from pesticides, including the California red legged frog, and the polar bear.
Group Moves for Court Order to Protect Threatened Frog from Pesticides, January 2006
Court Finds EPA Failed to Protect Endangered Red-Legged Frog, September 2005
EPA Proposes Pesticides Restrictions in Endangered Species Settlement, July 2009