Court orders EPA to act on chlorpyrifos

By Philip Brasher

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2015 - A federal appeals court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to act by Oct. 31 on a petition calling for a ban on the insecticide chlorpyrifos.

In an opinion issued Monday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, EPA was told to release a proposed or final rule banning the pesticide or to otherwise issue a "full and final" response to a petition filed by the Pesticide Action Network North America and the Natural Resources Defense Council nine years ago. If the EPA chooses to issue a proposed rule, the court is demanding a timeline for finalizing it. 

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“Although filibustering may be a venerable tradition in the United States Senate, it is frowned upon in administrative agencies tasked with protecting human health,” the court said. 

EPA has said that chlorpyrifos poses such a significant threat to water supplies that it may be necessary to ban its use nationwide. The agency has said that it would propose a rule by April 15, 2016, that would essentially ban the product, but EPA said that the case may require complex proceedings. 

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The court said the agency's response was “a roadmap for further delay. EPA has stretched the ‘rule of reason' beyond its limits.”

In a statement, chlorpyrifos registrant Dow AgroSciences said it remains “confident in the extensive health, safety and environmental data supporting chlorpyrifos products. Recognizing the importance of chlorpyrifos to both our customers and to U.S. agriculture, we will continue to support EPA's ongoing registration review of chlorpyrifos with state-of-the-art data for high quality regulatory assessments.”

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