Daily News Archive
Right to Sue EPA for Delay on Hazardous Wood Preservatives
Rather than disagreeing with the plaintiffs’ complaint based on the merits, the court states that judicial review is precluded because the agency has not yet issued a final action, reversing settled law about citizen’s rights to challenge agencies’ undue delay. The court appears to have gone beyond EPA’s motion for a partial dismissal of the case, in which it agreed that the plaintiffs have the right to make an unreasonable delay claim, but should not be able to force a particular action, such as a cancellation or suspension of wood preservatives, which the plaintiffs also sought.
The case Beyond Pesticides et al v. EPA (U.S. District Court), in which Beyond Pesticides joined with Communications Workers of America (AFL-CIO), Center for Environmental Health (Oakland, CA) and Joseph and Rosanne Prager (Gainesville, Florida), was filed December 10, 2002. Central to the case is a request from the court for a declaratory judgment that EPA has unreasonably delayed in completing its regulatory actions on the three heavy duty wood preservatives which were initiated in 1978, and in responding to Beyond Pesticides' petitions to cancel and suspend their registrations. The case also charges that EPA arbitrarily failed to re-assess its 1984 finding that no economically viable alternatives exist to wood treated with these pesticides. The court earlier, on June 26, 2003, dismissed a request that it issue an emergency injunction to stop the use of pentachlorophenol, based on EPA’s own findings of excessively elevated risks. The suit also challenges EPA’s exemption of treated wood from hazardous waste classification.
In a statement, Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, said, “If this ruling stands, there's no sense in pretending that pesticides are governed by anything other than a federal pesticide marketing and promotion law without full, timely requirements for regulatory assessment of health and environmental effects. The public’s health is in the hands of decision makers hamstrung by politics, held accountable to no standards for action.”
For more information, including a copy of the Judge's decision, see the lawsuit update page.