(Posted Tue. Apr 23rd, 2013)
Apr. 23: The U.S. District Court of Northern California issued an order yesterday dismissing a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that alleged the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act when registering hundreds of compounds. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased with the decision and supports farmers’ ability to use products that have already been approved within EPA’s rigorous registration process.
The suit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network of North America, claiming that EPA failed to undertake consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, as required by the Endangered Species Act.
“The dismissal of the case is a sweeping victory for growers who were faced with the possibility of major restrictions on previously approved crop protection products,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said. “This offers reassurance to America’s farmers that they are free to use products that have been deemed safe by the EPA. Furthermore, it demonstrates a faith that we share in the EPA’s extensive testing process.”
The suit, which was filed in 2011, specifically alleged that the agency failed to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service on hundreds of pesticide registrations potentially affecting hundreds of species.
That year, NCGA and other agricultural organizations joined the case as interveners to ensure that growers have a seat at the table in any potential settlement negotiations. NCGA took these actions as the suit posed a significant risk to agriculture by raising the possibility of court-ordered injunctions that could limit pesticide usage throughout the United States. Atrazine and a number of other chemicals used by corn farmers were specifically named in the suit.
The lawsuit requested the court apply “appropriate restrictions on the use of pesticides where they may affect endangered and threatened species and critical habitats” until consultations had been completed and the product registrations were in compliance with the ESA. If successful, these “appropriate restrictions” could have resulted in the imposition of buffers zones and other product use restrictions that had the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of land available to agriculture while doing little to protect threatened species and their habitat.