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CONTACT: Center for Biological Diversity
Jeff Miller, (415) 669-7357
Federal Court Ruling Leaves Hundreds of Endangered Species Vulnerable to Pesticides
SAN FRANCISCO - April 23 - A federal district court in San Francisco today issued an order dismissing a lawsuit that sought to protect endangered wildlife from pesticides. The Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America brought suit in 2011 challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to assess the impacts of 382 pesticides known to be harmful to more than 200 endangered and threatened species. Today’s court order focuses on procedural issues and allows the environmental groups to amend and re-file their legal complaint within 30 days.
“Despite today’s ruling, we won’t allow the EPA to ignore its duty to protect endangered species and human health from toxic pesticides,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center. “We’re evaluating our options, including amending the complaint or filing an appeal. We’ll do everything we can to ensure harmful chemicals aren’t allowed to contaminate the places endangered species rely on for their survival.”
The 2011 lawsuit sought protection from pesticides for 214 endangered and threatened species throughout the United States, including the Florida panther, California condor, piping plover, black-footed ferret, arroyo toad, Indiana bat, bonytail chub and Alabama sturgeon. Documents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA, as well as peer-reviewed scientific studies, indicate these species are harmed by the pesticides at issue. More than a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States, and the EPA has registered more than 18,000 different pesticides for use.
For decades the EPA has registered pesticides without input from expert federal agencies to evaluate harmful impacts to wildlife. Hundreds of scientific studies document harm to endangered wildlife from pesticides, and there is evidence of widespread contamination of groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats throughout the country.
The EPA has refused to initiate formal consultations required under the Endangered Species Act, preventing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service from evaluating pesticide risks to imperiled wildlife and from restricting harmful pesticide uses.
“This is a disappointing ruling for endangered species on Earth Day,” said Miller. “But the court’s decision does not change the fact that the EPA’s pesticide registration program is completely broken and that the agency is not keeping toxic chemicals out of sensitive wildlife habitats.”
The National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council is currently examining how the EPA and federal wildlife agencies assess the harmful impacts of pesticides, and how best to complete the consultation process under the Endangered Species Act. A final academy report on how to better protect endangered species from pesticides is expected in May.