Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 4, 2017

 

Contact:  Lori Ann Burd, (971) 717-6405, laburd@biologicaldiversity.org

EPA Slammed at D.C. Hearing on Reducing ‘Burden’ of Pesticide Regulation  

Pesticide Industry Firmly in Driver’s Seat at EPA Office of Pesticides After Massive Donations to Trump

WASHINGTON— Speakers representing public health, farmworkers and the environment today blasted efforts by the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to weaken safeguards meant to protect people, water, air and wildlife from dangerous toxins.

The comments came during a three-hour public hearing, hosted by the EPA’s Office of Pesticides Program, meant to allow pesticide makers to describe the so-called burdens pesticide regulations place on industry. But several speakers described the current pesticide-approval process as little more than a rubber stamp for industry that does too little to protect public health and wildlife.

After Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity, questioned why the EPA was asking about the burdens to industry instead of the serious health burdens pesticides place on vulnerable farmworker communities and endangered species, the crowd erupted into cheers.

Comments from other Center staffers and public interest groups urging the EPA not to repeal or replace any of the regulations safeguarding people and wildlife from the most toxic pesticides also drew cheers from the audience.

“Trump’s EPA is working overtime to weaken common-sense measures designed to protect us all from these poisons,” said Burd. “For the sake of inflating profits for pesticide giants, EPA chief Scott Pruitt is willing to ignore that these poisons harm brain development in children, increase cancer risks, contaminate our water and kill endangered wildlife.”

A transcript of the comments provided by Burd and Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center, is available here.

Despite calling this week’s meeting a public hearing, the EPA took steps to stifle transparency and muffle the voices of citizens, including making a late change to the registration process that resulted in fewer members of the public being allowed to attend and speak, and restricting the use of cameras.

Under Pruitt’s leadership the EPA has demonstrated its willingness to walk away from regulations designed to reduce the public’s exposure to dangerous pesticides. Shortly after taking the reins at the EPA, Pruitt scrapped the agency’s proposed ban of the brain-damaging Dow pesticide chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic organophosphate that has been banned from indoor use for more than a decade.

“The sad truth is that the only voices the Trump EPA is now allowed to listen to are those of the largest multinational corporations,” Burd said.

Background
Earlier this year Dow sent letters to key Trump administration officials insisting that the EPA abandon four years of legally required analysis to protect endangered species from chlorpyrifos and two other pesticides shown likely to harm nearly 1,800 endangered plants and animals.

Over the past six years, the company has donated $11 million to congressional campaigns and political action committees and spent another $75 million lobbying Congress. Dow was one of three companies that donated $1 million to the Trump inauguration. President Trump named Dow Chemical’s CEO, Andrew Liveris, as the head of the American Manufacturing Council in his administration.

Today’s hearing was held in response to Executive Order 13777, under which President Trump ordered all federal agencies to identify regulatory protections that can be repealed, replaced or modified in order to reduce “regulatory burdens” on industry. In response EPA chief Pruitt ordered the agency to aggressively move to eliminate regulations, with similar hearings being held in all EPA divisions between April 24 and May 9. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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