For Immediate Release, May 18, 2010
Contact: Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185
Pesticides Restricted Throughout Bay Area Endangered Species Habitat
Environmental Protection Agency Will Evaluate 75 Pesticides Likely Harmful to
Imperiled Bay Area Wildlife Species
SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity this week won restrictions on the use of toxic pesticides in and adjacent to habitat for 11 endangered and threatened wildlife species in the San Francisco Bay Area. A federal court yesterday signed an injunction imposing interim restrictions on the use of 75 pesticides in eight Bay Area counties while the Environmental Protection Agency formally evaluates their potentially harmful effects on Bay Area endangered species over the next five years. The injunction stems from a Center lawsuit in 2007 against the EPA for violating the Endangered Species Act.
“These pesticide use restrictions will protect some of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable wildlife from inappropriate use of toxic pesticides,” said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center.
The endangered species are the Alameda whipsnake, bay checkerspot butterfly, California clapper rail, California freshwater shrimp, California tiger salamander, delta smelt, salt marsh harvest mouse, San Francisco garter snake, San Joaquin kit fox, tidewater goby, and valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Similar protections were obtained by the Center in a 2006 settlement prohibiting use of 66 pesticides in and adjacent to California red-legged frog habitats statewide.
The EPA is required under the Endangered Species Act to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over registration and approved uses of pesticides that may harm listed species or their critical habitat. Despite an obligation to avoid authorizing pesticide uses that jeopardize endangered species, the agency has consistently failed to evaluate or adequately regulate pesticides harmful to endangered species without citizen lawsuits and court-ordered timelines.
The injunction sets deadlines for the EPA to conduct “effects determinations” and sets aside use authorization for the 75 pesticides in, and adjacent to, endangered species habitats within eight Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma) until the determinations and consultation are completed. The consultations should result in cancellation of some pesticide uses and permanent use restrictions for harmful pesticides. The EPA began making effects determinations in October 2008 and must complete them by September 30, 2014.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org
Yesterday’s injunction also contains provisions to ensure that information regarding the restrictions is disseminated to pesticide retailers and users. The EPA must develop a bilingual (English and Spanish) brochure describing the settlement, the counties in which the injunction applies, tips for reducing offsite movement of pesticides, and reference to EPA’s Web site for information about where buffer zones apply for which pesticides and species. The EPA must develop a point-of-sale notification for urban pesticides in the form of a shelf tag with written and graphic information about potential adverse effects of pesticide use on endangered species in the Bay Area and Delta region, which must be distributed annually to pesticide retail stores in the greater Bay Area region.
Reported pesticide use in the Bay Area is about 10 million pounds annually, but actual pesticide use is estimated to be several times this amount since most home and commercial pesticide use is not reported to the state. Pesticide pollution has played a role in the recent collapse of Bay-Delta fish populations such as delta smelt, longfin smelt, and chinook salmon. Toxic pulses of pesticides have been documented in Bay Area streams and the Delta during critical stages in fish development, and many local water bodies are listed as “impaired” for not meeting water-quality standards due to high concentrations of extremely toxic pesticides such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon.
In 2006 the Center published Poisoning Our Imperiled Wildlife: San Francisco Bay Area Endangered Species at Risk from Pesticides, a report analyzing EPA’s failure to regulate pesticides harmful to Bay Area endangered species and the agency’s ongoing refusal to reform pesticide registration and use in accordance with scientific findings. The lawsuit, the report on pesticide impacts to Bay Area species, maps of pesticide use, and information about the listed species are on the Center’s pesticides Web page.