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Daily News Blog

17
Nov

Trump Administration Seeks Delay in Court-Ordered Review of Neurotoxic Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2017) The Trump Administration is asking a federal court to delay a prior agreement that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issue findings on the risk of three highly toxic organophosphate pesticides to endangered species. The move is widely seen by environmental advocates as influenced by the chemical industry, in particular the new agrichemical conglomerate DowDuPont, which completed a megamerger in September. The Trump Administration’s ongoing willingness to do the bidding of the chemical and pesticide industry means that voters must speak out to their elected representatives to stem the tide of chemical poisonings in the U.S.

In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which requires the agency’s pesticide registration process to include consultations with federal wildlife agencies, including NMFS and the Fish and Wildlife Service. In this case, the pesticides in question are chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon, three highly toxic chemicals used as nerve agents during WW2 and registered as pesticides since the 1960s. EPA’s failure to consult with these agencies is a chronic problem in the pesticide registration and review process, leaving critical gaps in the protection of endangered species, and costing taxpayers significant sums when a lawsuit is the only option to force agency compliance with the law. CBD’s lawsuit resulted in an agreement that EPA would complete its assessment by the end of 2017.

Under Section 7 of ESA, any agency action must find that it “is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat.” Earlier this year, EPA released its first biological evaluation analyzing “nation-wide effects” of the three chemicals, as required by the settlement agreement, finding that chlorpyrifos and malathion are likely to have a detrimental effect on 97% of endangered species, with diazinon likely to adversely affect 78%.

After EPA’s evaluation, NMFS is required to analyze EPA’s data and come up with actions that would limit the effect of these chemicals on endangered species habitat. Earlier this year, Dow Chemical asked the Trump Administration to: (i) ignore EPA’s evaluation; (ii) set aside the development of any NMFS actions that would address concerns in the evaluation; and (iii) file a court motion requesting a delay of NMFS 2017 deadline.

Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decided to ignore the agency’s own science in its decision to permit the continued use of chlorpyrifos in agriculture. There is no indication whether NMFS continued to work on any actions related to EPA’s biological evaluation (as outlined in request (ii)), but the Trump Administration is now fulfilling its third request from Dow by filing a motion to delay NMFS 2017 deadline. If the court agrees with the Trump Administration and grants a delay, it will be another two years before the roughly 1,800 endangered species throughout the U.S. are protected from these toxic chemicals.

It should be noted that Dow Chemical contributed $1 million dollars to President Trump’s inauguration day festivities, and the company’s CEO held a  closed door meeting with EPA Administrator Pruitt only 20 days before the agency’s decision to allow continued use of chlorpyrifos.

Fight back against industry influence in our governmental decisions by urging your Senator to co-sponsor a bill to ban chlorpyrifos. The “Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act,” S. 1624, will prohibit all chlorpyrifos use in agriculture, and direct EPA to partner with the National Research Council to assess the neurodevelopmental and other low-dose effects of exposure to organophosphate pesticides to agricultural workers and children. Introduced by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), current co-sponsors include Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Request that  your Senator co-sponsor this legislation by taking action today.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Center for Biological Diversity

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  • Archives

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