CENTER ACTIONS ON PESTICIDES

The Center is filing a series of strategic legal challenges against the EPA to compel it to adhere to federal environmental law when registering pesticides. The legal actions will seek EPA compliance regarding pesticide impacts to specific imperiled species and also programmatic changes in the agency’s registration process.

April 2002 – Compelling the EPA to consult on pesticide impacts to the California red-legged frog

In April of 2002, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the EPA for failing to consult on pesticides that may affect the California red-legged frog. The EPA failed to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether the EPA’s pesticide registration program is jeopardizing the continued existence of the red-legged frog, whose population has declined by 90%. The lawsuit identified 51 pesticides of concern by name, and another 200 pesticides generally, that are used in habitat of the red-legged frog. This lawsuit is still pending. View the press release about the lawsuit and the complaint.

June 2002 - Filed notice of intent to sue over the EPA's pesticide program

In June 2002 the Center filed notice of intent to sue the EPA over their pesticide program. The Center will shortly file a programmatic legal challenge against the EPA based on the agency's systematic failure to consult on impacts to listed species and for take of listed species in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The EPA has also failed to implement the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and is in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. View the notice of intent to sue.

December 2003 - Compelling the EPA to consult on impacts of six pesticides on the Barton Springs salamander

In December of 2003, the Center and the Save Our Springs Alliance brought another suit against the EPA for failing to consult on the impact of six pesticides (atrazine, carbaryl, diazinon, metolachlor, prometon, and simazine) on the Barton Springs salamander. All six pesticides have been found in samples taken by the USGS from Barton Springs, Texas. Barton Springs salamanders are especially vulnerable to pesticide contamination and have recently been developing strange deformities and dying of bizarre maladies. The Fish and Wildlife Service suggested in 2002 that the EPA enter into formal consultation regarding the impact of atrazine and alerted the EPA that “it does not appear that EPA will be able to fulfill its legal responsibilities…to ensure that its proposed re-registration action [for atrazine] is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or destroy or aversely modify designated critical habitat.” The Service’s letter identified concern for the Barton Springs salamander given documented adverse affects to amphibians from atrazine exposure. Despite the Service’s concerns, the EPA has not initiated consultation for pesticide impacts to the Barton Springs salamander. View the press release about the lawsuit and the complaint.

January 2004 - Stopping the EPA from using an illegal insider chemical group to forge policy

In January 2004 the Center and other conservation and pesticide watchdog groups filed a lawsuit to stop the EPA from giving illegal special access to a group of chemical corporations. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and other sources reveal that the corporate insider group has met regularly with the EPA officials in secret and has urged the EPA to weaken endangered species protections from pesticides. The chemical companies are pushing the EPA to weaken pesticide safeguards by cutting expert biologists in the Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries out of consultations determining the effects of pesticides on wildlife. At the companies’ urging, the EPA has starting a rulemaking to reserve authority over such evaluations to itself. Federal law prohibits the government from using and meeting in secret with such insider groups. View the press release about the lawsuit and the complaint.

2004 - Compelling the EPA perform non-discretionary duties as chair of the Task Force on Environmental Cancer and Heart and Lung Disease

The Center plans to take action over the EPA’s failure to report to Congress and identify funding and policy needs on pollution-induced environmental cancer and heart and lung diseases. There are still many issues in environmental health in the U. S. that need to be addressed: air pollution causes up to 100,000 deaths per year; childhood cancer, which can result from postnatal exposure to pesticides, parental occupations in agriculture, and other environmental toxins has risen by 1% since the early 1970’s; and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may be a result of environmental toxins including pesticides. Congress established the Task Force on Environmental Cancer and Heart and Lung Disease in 1977, chaired by the head of the EPA. The Task Force is required by law to produce an annual report to Congress on the current developments about and prevention of environmentally related cancer and heart and lung disease. The Task Force is also charged with carrying out regular workshops, panels, and symposiums to advance understanding of this topic.

The Task Force was illegally disbanded under the first Bush Administration and has not submitted the annual reports to Congress since 1991. These reports are critical to the health of our nation by identifying where additional funds are needed for research to prevent pollution-induced environmental diseases and to highlight where policy changes are needed to protect public health and the environment. The Center intends to file a lawsuit against EPA Administrator Christine Whitman for failure to chair the Task Force, failure to annually report to Congress, and failure to provide agency representatives to the Task Force. The Center is building a coalition with breast cancer groups and other interested organizations in order to address the EPA’s deficiencies in protecting the environmental health of Americans.

July 2004 – Published report on the EPA’s failure to regulate pesticides harmful to endangered species

In July 2004 the Center published, Silent Spring Revisited- Pesticide Use and Endangered Species, a report detailing the failure of the EPA to regulate pesticides harmful to endangered species and exposing the agency’s on-going refusal to reform pesticide registration and use in accordance with scientific findings. The report identifies over 375 species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act that federal wildlife agencies have concluded may be adversely affected by pesticides. The report also discusses case studies of the EPA’s failure to consult with wildlife regulatory agencies about the impacts of pesticides on numerous endangered species and the agency’s illegal registration of pesticides known to be harmful to imperiled fish and wildlife. View the press release about the report .