Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 23, 2019

Contact:  Lisa Arkin, Beyond Toxics, (541) 465-8860, larkin@beyondtoxics.org
Drew Toher, Beyond Pesticides, (202) 543 5450, dtoher@beyondpesticides.org
Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6405, laburd@biologicaldiversity.org

EPA Records Sought on Pesticide That Caused Mass Tree Die-offs in Oregon

State Mulls Expanding Temporary Ban on Ultra-toxic Herbicide

PORTLAND, Ore.— Three conservation and public health groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request today with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeking public records on the notorious, tree-killing pesticide aminocyclopyrachlor (ACP), which is commonly sprayed along state and county roads. The request seeks records about the EPA’s approval of the pesticide eight years ago, and any documents raising concerns about its long-term effects on trees and other vegetation.

The powerful toxin has been linked to mass tree killings in central Oregon over the past year, including the deaths of about 1,500 ponderosa pines, some of them old growth.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture will soon open a comment period on a proposal to make permanent last year’s temporary ban on the pesticide. Oregon’s temporary ban prohibited ACP spraysing on roadsides. Since ACP was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010, it has killed thousands of trees across the nation.

“Pesticide makers and the EPA have long known that this pesticide is killing trees, but they’ve refused to take it off the market," said Lisa Arkin, executive director of Beyond Toxics. “We are filing this public records request so that communities can get the information they need to protect themselves, their drinking water and the forest ecosystems they love.”

A recent Oregon investigation into aminocyclopyrachlor’s role in tree deaths found high levels of the pesticide in the needles of dying trees outside the spray zone.

“This herbicide is emblematic of the EPA’s failed pesticide registration system,” said Drew Toher, community resource and policy director at Beyond Pesticides, a national nonprofit organization. “Despite a nearly two million dollar settlement with DuPont in 2013 after ACP caused widespread damage to valuable trees, the EPA has allowed this chemical to remain on the market.”

The pesticide travels through soils, killing trees years after it was last sprayed. Due to its persistence, wood chips from poisoned trees and grass clippings from treated lawns cannot be used for compost because the toxin can continue to kill vegetables and flowers.

“It’s sickening that Oregon is allowing this impossible-to-control pesticide to kill trees that have been around for centuries,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The EPA should have never approved this dangerous poison in the first place. Now our state leaders must step up and make sure this terrible toxin is never again sprayed in Oregon.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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