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Environmental suit seeks more action on pesticide regulation

Published on December 3, 2010 3:01AM

Last changed on December 31, 2010 6:40AM

EPA allowed fish to be harmed by failing to enact measures, groups say


Capital Press

Environmental groups claim the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hasn't lived up to its obligations to regulate pesticides under the Endangered Species Act.

A legal complaint filed Nov. 29 by the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides is the latest action in a series of court battles involving pesticides stretching back nearly a decade.

Due to several court orders and a legal settlement, the EPA must consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine if dozens of registered pesticides jeopardize endangered and threatened fish.

Since 2008, NMFS has completed consultations for some of the pesticides in question, proposing measures -- such as no-spray buffers around waterways -- intended to mitigate the threat to salmon and steelhead.

Environmental groups claim that EPA has failed to enact those measures for diazinon, malathion, chlorpyrifos, carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl, allowing fish to be harmed in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

"EPA has not implemented any label changes or even begun the process of changing the labels to ensure that registrations for these pesticides comply with the ESA," the complaint said.

Capital Press was unable to reach an EPA spokesperson for comment.

Restrictions on pesticide use proposed by NMFS have been opposed by agricultural groups in states inhabited by the federally protected fish: Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California.

If the no-spray buffers are implemented, pesticide use would be restricted on large swaths of each state's total land area -- between 26 percent and 61 percent, depending on the state, according to NMFS.

Last year, several pesticide manufacturers filed a lawsuit challenging NMFS' analysis of several pesticides. For procedural reasons, a judge ruled that the complaint could only be resolved by a federal appeals court.

The lawsuit is currently pending before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral arguments on the issue in late October.


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