Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testifies during a hearing titled "Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency" in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 20, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Al Drago/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Federal Court Urged to Hold 'Rogue' Trump EPA in Contempt for Blatant Defiance of Ban on Toxic Weed Killer

"EPA needs a lesson in separation of powers and we're asking the court to give it to them."

Jake Johnson

A coalition of farming and conservation groups is calling on a federal appeals court to hold EPA chief Andrew Wheeler in contempt for defying an order to immediately suspend use of dicamba, a poisonous weed-killer that is notorious for its tendency to drift and destroy nearby crops.

"Trump's EPA is so rogue it thinks it can blow off a federal court ruling that stops the damaging dicamba spraying in an administrative order," George Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, lead counsel in the case, said in a statement late Thursday night. "EPA needs a lesson in separation of powers and we're asking the court to give it to them."

"It's mind-boggling to see the EPA blatantly ignore a court ruling, especially one that provides such important protections for farmers and the environment."
—Stephanie Parent, Center for Biological Diversity

On Monday, the EPA issued guidance greenlighting the use of dicamba through July 31 despite a June 3 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that overturned the agency's approval of XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan—dicamba-based herbicides sold by chemical giants Bayer (formerly Monsanto), BASF, and Corteva, respectively.

In its 56-page ruling (pdf), the Ninth Circuit said the EPA "entirely failed to recognize the enormous social cost to farming communities where use of dicamba herbicides had turned farmer against farmer, and neighbor against neighbor."

"The EPA and Monsanto urge us, if we conclude that substantial evidence does not support the 2018 conditional registrations, to remand without vacatur, leaving the conditional registrations in effect," the court said. "We decline to do so."

Green groups celebrated the ruling as a victory for both farmer safety and the environment. On Thursday, the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed an emergency motion (pdf) urging the Ninth Circuit to enforce its June 3 order and hold the EPA and Wheeler in contempt for refusing to abide by it.

According to the two groups, last week's court ruling to ban the continued use of dicamba "could not have been any clearer" and argued the EPA must be held to account for disobeying the order.

"It's mind-boggling to see the EPA blatantly ignore a court ruling, especially one that provides such important protections for farmers and the environment," Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney with CBD, said in a statement. "We're asking this court to restore the rule of law at the Trump EPA."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Biggest Win for Tax Fairness' in Decades: Progressives Cheer Reforms in IRA, Demand More

"While this bill establishes desperately needed changes to our tax laws and IRS funding, it is still a far cry from the systemic changes that we need in our society to rectify the hold the rich still have on every level of our economy."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Care Can't Wait': IRA a Good Start, Progressives Say, But More Is Needed

"Americans deserve a full loaf of bread," said health justice advocate Ady Barkan.

Kenny Stancil ·


'I'm Back': Fetterman Returns to Campaign Trail Following May Stroke

"I'm not only grateful to be alive, but also for the campaign we're building together," said the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat.

Kenny Stancil ·


Because Climate Science 'Does Not Grade on a Curve,' Experts Says IRA Not Enough

"There is an urgent need for much more aggressive and far-reaching measures to prevent climate chaos," said the head of one progressive consumer advocacy group.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Game-Changer and Reason for Hope': House Passes Inflation Reduction Act

"We've got more to do," Rep. Pramila Jayapal said on the House floor. "But today, let's celebrate this massive investment for the people."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo