Pesticides Restricted Throughout Bay Area Endangered Species Habitat

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185

Pesticides Restricted Throughout Bay Area Endangered Species Habitat

Environmental Protection Agency Will Evaluate 75 Pesticides Likely Harmful to 11 Imperiled Bay Area Wildlife Species

SAN FRANCISCO - The Center for
Biological Diversity this week won restrictions on the use of toxic pesticides
in and adjacent to habitat for 11 endangered and threatened wildlife species in
the San Francisco Bay Area. A federal court yesterday signed an injunction
imposing interim restrictions on the use of 75 pesticides in eight Bay Area
counties while the Environmental Protection Agency formally evaluates their
potentially harmful effects on Bay Area endangered species over the next five
years. The injunction stems from a Center lawsuit in 2007 against the EPA for
violating the Endangered Species Act.

"These pesticide
use restrictions will protect some of the Bay Area's most vulnerable wildlife
from inappropriate use of toxic pesticides," said Jeff Miller, conservation
advocate with the Center.

The endangered
species are the Alameda whipsnake, bay
checkerspot butterfly, California clapper rail,
California freshwater shrimp, California tiger salamander, delta smelt, salt marsh
harvest mouse, San Francisco garter snake,
San Joaquin kit fox, tidewater goby, and valley
elderberry longhorn beetle. Similar protections were obtained by the Center in a
2006 settlement prohibiting use of 66 pesticides in and adjacent to California red-legged
frog habitats statewide.

The EPA is
required under the Endangered Species Act to consult with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service over registration and approved uses of pesticides that may harm
listed species or their critical habitat. Despite an obligation to avoid
authorizing pesticide uses that jeopardize endangered species, the agency has
consistently failed to evaluate or adequately regulate pesticides harmful to
endangered species without citizen lawsuits and court-ordered
timelines.

The injunction
sets deadlines for the EPA to conduct "effects determinations" and sets aside
use authorization for the 75 pesticides in, and adjacent to, endangered species
habitats within eight Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San
Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano,
and Sonoma) until the determinations and consultation are completed. The
consultations should result in cancellation of some pesticide uses and permanent
use restrictions for harmful pesticides. The EPA began making effects
determinations in October 2008 and must complete them by September 30,
2014.

Background

Yesterday's
injunction also contains provisions to ensure that information regarding the
restrictions is disseminated to pesticide retailers and users. The EPA must
develop a bilingual (English and Spanish) brochure describing the settlement,
the counties in which the injunction applies, tips for reducing offsite movement
of pesticides, and reference to EPA's Web site for information about where
buffer zones apply for which pesticides and species. The EPA must develop a
point-of-sale notification for urban pesticides in the form of a shelf tag with
written and graphic information about potential adverse effects of pesticide use
on endangered species in the Bay Area and Delta region, which must be
distributed annually to pesticide retail stores in the greater Bay Area
region.

Reported
pesticide use in the Bay Area is about 10 million pounds annually, but actual
pesticide use is estimated to be several times this amount since most home and
commercial pesticide use is not reported to the state. Pesticide pollution has
played a role in the recent collapse of Bay-Delta fish populations such as delta
smelt, longfin smelt, and chinook salmon. Toxic pulses of pesticides have been
documented in Bay Area streams and the Delta during critical stages in fish
development, and many local water bodies are listed as "impaired" for not
meeting water-quality standards due to high concentrations of extremely toxic
pesticides such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon.

In
2006 the Center published Poisoning Our Imperiled
Wildlife: San Francisco Bay Area Endangered Species at Risk from
Pesticides
, a report analyzing EPA's failure to regulate
pesticides harmful to Bay Area endangered species and the agency's ongoing
refusal to reform pesticide registration and use in accordance with scientific
findings. The lawsuit, the report on pesticide impacts to Bay Area species, maps
of pesticide use, and information about the listed species are on the Center's pesticides Web
page
.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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