Thursday, August 13, 2015

Court Orders EPA to Address Pesticide Safety

By Tyler R. Etter

On August 10, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address a petition to review the safety of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos by the end of October 2015.

Chlorpyrifos is a widely used agricultural pesticide, restricted from being used in residential areas following the safety review of the pesticide pursuant to the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996. Pesticide Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a petition to the EPA in September of 2007 to reassess the safety of the agricultural application of the pesticide. The EPA pledged to make a formal response in 2011, 2014, and 2015 to no avail.

Court proceedings began on June 4, 2015, with Pesticide Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council seeking mandamus for the EPA’s delay in response. The court ordered the EPA to complete a full and final response to the petition by the end of October 2015, stating “Although filibustering may be a venerable tradition in the United States Senate, it is frowned upon in administrative agencies tasked with protecting human health.”

The court opinion noted the EPA’s recognition of the potential threat chlorpyrifos poses to water supplies, and the pesticide has been linked to developmental issues, lowered brain function, loss of memory, and other health issues in children and agricultural workers.

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