RULES ON PESTICIDES THREATEN FISH AND WILDLIFE
regulations would weaken endangered species protections
On Wednesday, January 28, 2004, the Bush administration proposed new
Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations that would circumvent the consultation
process established under the ESA to ensure that federally permitted
pesticide applications will not wipe out endangered species. The new
rules, promulgated at the chemical industry’s behest, would weaken
endangered species protections by:
Shutting wildlife agency experts out of endangered species protection
by instituting self-consultations in which only the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) would assess the impacts of pesticides on
endangered species, thereby eliminating the expert wildlife agency
review of the scientific evidence that serves as an independent check
Making it more difficult to protect endangered species by requiring
a greater showing of harm to the species before formal consultations
with wildlife agency experts are required.
Establishing rigorous hurdles for the type of data that can be considered
in assessing risks to species.
Requiring deference to EPA’s assessments of pesticides and views
even where EPA lacks species’ expertise or the expert scientists
disagree with EPA’s views.
Allowing outdated science to be the basis for determining whether
and the extent to which endangered species must be protected from
the chemical industry special participation rights that are not shared
by the public.
EPA already ignores its obligation to consult with wildlife agency experts
The EPA has an abysmal track record when it comes to fulfilling its legal
obligation to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on pesticides:
continues to authorize use of pesticides that FWS has found will cause
jeopardy to endangered species.
has no program for protecting endangered species despite proposing
such a program in 1989.
EPA never started the process of bringing its pesticide authorizations
into compliance with the ESA protections for salmon until ordered
to do so by a federal court in 2002, even though the first ESA listing
of salmon occurred in 1989, triggering the ESA duties.
EPA authorizes use of pesticides that it has found to be harmful to
fish or wildlife without putting mitigation measures into place.
sufficient scientific expertise to assess wildlife risks
Wildlife agency experts have repeatedly called into question the guidelines
and assessments that EPA has prepared and conducted.
The National Marine Fisheries Service stated in its biological opinion
on pesticide use on public forests that “Rainbow trout behavior
changed at chlordane (organo-chlorine insecticide) concentrations
below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) no-to-be-exceeded
concentration, illustrating the inadequacy of using current EPA application
guidelines for avoidance of sublethal effects.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service comments on EPA’s Atrazine risk
assessment stated: “Risk assessments that fail to address [the
pesticide mixing] issue are likely to underestimate the true potential
for ecological impacts, and as such, this represents a critical data
gap that EPA needs to address.”
EPA further lacks expertise on the status and habitat needs of endangered
species. EPA’s assessment of the pesticide diazinon acknowledged
that EPA lacked knowledge about young Chinook salmon life cycles and
EPA bases its species assessments on doses that kill species without
taking into account the peer reviewed scientific literature documenting
serious impacts to species at levels below the lethal dose.
does not assess the cumulative effects of multiple pesticide uses
on endangered species.
poison our wildlife and threaten our health
Public consciousness about the dangers of pesticides to wildlife dates
back to the 1960's when Rachel Carson first exposed the problem in Silent
Spring, her legendary work about the link between declining bird populations
and the pesticide DDT. But forty years later, the EPA proposed changes
to pesticides regulations could spell disaster for wildlife from exposure
to deadly chemical poisons.
- It is widely known
that pesticides can kill or harm wildlife, including species on the
brink of extinction.
- Because pesticides
often travel from one level in the food chain up to the next, they can
have damaging effects on many species that never came into direct contact
with the pesticides.
- Fenthion, a particularly
potent pesticide, has been linked to the deaths of endangered birds,
and Brodifacoum, the active ingredient in the rat poison D-Con and the
culprit in most of the 48,000 recent rodenticide poisonings of children
under six, has contributed to the deaths of endangered San Joaquin kit
foxes and golden eagles.
Community Action On Toxics
Californians For Alternatives To Pesticides
Center For Environmental Law And Policy
Defenders Of Wildlife
Endangered Species Coalition
Idaho Conservation League
Institute For Fisheries Resources
Kitsap Audubon Society
National Wildlife Federation
Native Fish Society
Northwest Coalition For Alternatives To Pesticides
Pacific Coast Federation Of Fishermen's Associations, Inc.
Trout Unlimited – Oregon Council
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Washington Toxics Coalition
Willamette River Keeper
Pam Miller, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, (907) 222-7714; Patty
Clary, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, (707) 445-5100; Mary
Beth Beetham, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 682-9400; Susan Holmes, Earthjustice,
(202) 667-4500; Beth Lowell, Endangered Species Coalition, (202) 408-7834;
Glen Spain, Institute for Fisheries Resources, (541) 689-2000; Corry
Westbrook, National Wildlife Federation, (202) 797-6840; Bill Bakke,
Native Fish Society, (503) 977-0287; Aimee Code, Northwest Coalition
for Alternatives to Pesticides, (541) 344-5044; Glen Spain, Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Inc., (541) 689-2000;
Shannon Ryan, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, (202) 546-9707; Erika
Schreder, Washington Toxics Coalition, (206) 632-1545; Travis Williams,
Willamette River Keeper, (503) 223-6418