Judge allows pesticide bee lawsuit to proceed

Mateusz Perkowski
A lawsuit over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of "neonicotinoid" pesticides will proceed despite several legal arguments being rejected by a federal judge.

A federal judge has thrown out several claims in a lawsuit filed by beekeepers over the regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides but will allow the case to proceed.

Last year, four beekeepers and several nonprofit groups filed a complaint against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of the pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Both belong to the neonicotinoid class of chemicals, which have been a focus of researchers looking into bee die-offs.

The lawsuit claimed that the chemicals harm bees and other pollinators but EPA has failed to restrict their usage despite new information about the problem.

The EPA and pesticide manufacturers asked for the lawsuit be dismissed. U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney has agreed with them on several counts but kept some claims alive in the lawsuit.

“Some of it’s definitely good news, some of it I could have done without,” said George Kimbrell, an attorney for the Center for Food Safety, which is involved in the case.

The judge dismissed procedural challenges to how the EPA approved the pesticides for use on additional crops because the plaintiffs “fail to allege facts sufficient to support their conclusory assertion.”

However, the judge will allow the plaintiffs to try to correct this deficiency by revising their complaint.

She also rejected claims that the EPA should have ended certain conditional uses for the pesticides.

The plaintiffs cannot pursue such claims in federal court without first “exhausting” the EPA administrative process for such challenges, Chesney said.

Other objections to how EPA regulates the pesticides failed for the same reason, though the plaintiffs will still be able to raise the issues through the administrative process.

The judge will allow the plaintiffs to continue litigating over some of their claims related to the Endangered Species Act, however.

Also, they will be able to pursue the allegation that EPA disregarded new information when the agency refused to suspend the registration of clothianidin.

The EPA denied the plaintiffs’ request for the suspension because there wasn’t enough evidence of imminent harm to bees.

However, the agency also said that it wouldn’t consider additional materials submitted by the beekeepers after their original petition due to the “emergency nature” of the request.



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