The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given the Environmental Protection Agency 90 days to decide whether to allow the use of chlorpyrifos.
The appeals court issued a three-paragraph order today giving the agency until mid-July to respond to objections from farmworker and environmental groups to EPA's 2017 decision permitting continued use of the insecticide.
“We commend the court for this ruling as it forces the EPA to stop stalling,” Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman said in a news release. “While we are moving forward, the tragedy is that children are being exposed to chlorpyrifos, a pesticide science has long shown is unsafe. We hope Trump’s EPA finally decides to protect the future of countless children and the health of millions of farmworkers.”
CropLife America President and CEO Chris Novak said in a statement his group "is pleased that the court returned the decision to EPA. We will continue to work with the agency to encourage decisions that are based in science. Chlorpyrifos has been carefully evaluated and approved by regulatory bodies in 79 countries and is one of many critical tools used by farmers to fight pest infestations.”
Goldman argued the case on March 27 for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and a host of other groups seeking to ban use of chlorpyrifos, sold by Corteva Agriscience under the trade name Lorsban. An en banc panel of 11 judges issued the decision.
In August, a panel of three judges ruled 2-1 that EPA should ban the insecticide. But enough judges on the court voted to hear the case again that the court convened the en banc panel.
At the March 27 arguments, many of the judges expressed frustration with EPA’s delays in addressing the groups’ objections to then-Administrator Scott Pruitt’s 2017 decision. A Justice Department attorney told the judges EPA could issue a final chlorpyrifos decision within 90 days.
The case has drawn intense interest from farm groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, CropLife America, the American Seed Trade Association, and groups representing sugarbeet, soybean, alfalfa, sorghum and corn growers — to name a few — who supported the government as friends of the court. The insecticide is used on more than 50 crops.
“For some crops and target pests, chlorpyrifos is the only line of defense, with no viable alternatives,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said when EPA asked the appeals court to rehear the case. Losing the use of chlorpyrifos “endangers agricultural industries and is expected to have wide economic impacts.”
Seven states and the District of Columbia intervened in the case to support LULAC. The states are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Washington.
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