(Beyond Pesticides, November 20, 2017) The pesticide industry is drafting legislation that threatens to remove provisions of the Endangered Species Act that protect species from pesticides.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of America’s most effective and important environmental laws. It represents a commitment to protect and restore those species most at risk of extinction. Recent polling shows 84 percent of Americans support the Endangered Species Act, and 87 percent agree that it is a successful safety net for protecting wildlife, plants, insects, and fish from extinction. Although many species –including the bald eagle, Florida manatee, and California condor— have been protected and brought back from the brink of extinction under the ESA, an estimated 500 species have disappeared in the past 200 years.
An important provision of the ESA is the requirement that each federal agency that proposes to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect a listed species or its critical habitat must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. In the case of pesticides, EPA is required to perform such a consultation if it finds that the pesticide may affect endangered species, and the Services may initiate such a consultation if they disagree with EPA’s assessment. In addition, citizens may file lawsuits to ensure that species are adequately protected. These consultation provisions are under attack by pesticide industry lobbyists promoting legislation allowing EPA to “self-consult” on pesticide registrations.
At least 59 legislative attacks on the ESA have been introduced in Congress this year. The pesticide industry proposed legislation strikes against ESA protections of plants and animals from pesticides. See industry’s draft legislation. It seeks to severely curtail the ESA’s Section 7 consultation provisions from pesticide reviews and eliminate all liability under Section 9 of the ESA, which prohibits the take injury, death, or harm of endangered animals.