Environmental groups have again filed litigation in order to force the Environmental Protection Agency to ban chlorpyrifos, a commonly used pesticide for corn, soybeans, fruit and nut trees, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, broccoli, cauliflower and other row crops.
In 2015, under the Obama Administration, EPA scientists moved forward with a proposed ban. In 2017, in one of the agency's first actions under the Trump Administration, EPA reversed course on the ban.
Earthjustice, on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a coalition of labor and health organizations, filed the litigation in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 7. Last summer, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ordered EPA to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The Trump Administration challenged the decision, the case was reheard by the full court and, in April, the Ninth Circuit ordered EPA to decide by July 18, 2019, if it would ban chlorpyrifos. EPA decided against the ban but also stated that it would expedite a review of the pesticide.
Chris Novak, CropLife America (CLA) chief executive officer, noted that farmers rely on the availability of pesticides like chlorpyrifos to control a variety of insect pests, as do public health officials who work to control deadly and debilitating pests like mosquitos. To address these essential needs, CLA said it is encouraged that EPA has chosen to expedite the regulatory review.
Novak said this decision reinforces the integrity of the registration process while addressing consumer protection and the needs of farmers and health officials who rely on this vital tool. “Pesticide registrations involve extensive testing and complex scientific analysis that are the foundation for pesticide regulatory decisions. A thorough review process is integral to determining the safety of pesticides, which is why CLA supports increased funding that will help ensure EPA has adequate resources to continue its important work regulating pesticide use."
This second lawsuit now argues that it is illegal for the agency to allow the continued use of chlorpyrifos because of the known risks to human -- especially children’s -- health, NRDC said in a statement.
States are also taking their own action to limit use of the pesticide. Hawaii has already started the process to ban the chemical, the New York state legislature passed a ban this spring that awaits the governor’s signature and California has committed to a ban. Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland have also considered chlorpyrifos bans
More than 80 groups sent a public letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to protect the health of children and farmworkers by banning what they call the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos.
U.S. senators have also expressed concern over the inaction and released a letter urging EPA to reverse its course and ban chlorpyrifos. Led by Sen. Tom Udall (D., N.M.), other letter signers include presidential hopefuls Sens. Kristen Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D., Cal.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and others.