Saturday, January 22, 2011

Two NGOs file suit against EPA for failure to consult on Endangered Species Act

On January 20, 2011, two NGOs filed "the most comprehensive legal action ever taken to protect endangered species from harmful pesticides. In the filing, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) accuse the USEPA of "registering and approving hundreds of pesticides known to harm imperiled species" without appropriate consultation with federal wildlife agencies. The lawsuit "seeks protection for 214 threatened or endangered species in 49 states and two U.S. territories."

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires EPA to undertake a formal consultation with other appropriate agencies responsible for protection of fish and wildlife, e.g., the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (commonly referred to as simply, "the services").  Over the years EPA has determined in many cases that the risk did not rise to the level of requiring outside consultation and that EPA had sufficient authority and practices under the FIFRA pesticide law to act.  However, CBD and PANNA charge that this practice is in violation of the ESA and favors the continued registration of pesticides that the services might otherwise deem to be too hazardous to fish and wildlife.

According to CBD,
The lawsuit seeks protection 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. Extensive scientific studies show widespread and pervasive pesticide contamination in groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats throughout the country. 
CBD and others have successfully sued EPA in the past, forcing the agency to consult with the services and often resulting in the further limitation of pesticide use.  But "today’s litigation is the first on this scale, as it seeks nationwide compliance for hundreds of pesticides on hundreds of species"

An interactive map is available on the CBD web site.  Clicking on a state will bring up a list of endangered and threatened species that CBD and PANNA identify in their law suit as being at risk due to EPA's lack of consultation with the services.

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