The Environmental Protection Agency can do a better job on “the way we handle pesticide regulation,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a speech at the Nixon Presidential Library last week.

“The American public views our pesticide program through the lens of the trial lawyers who advertise on television instead of the way we manage the program,” Wheeler said, an apparent reference to ads seeking plaintiffs for Roundup cancer lawsuits.

"The media and the courts tend to view our individual pesticide decisions in a one-off fashion, which has left the American public uninformed on our science-based process,” he added.

Wheeler said EPA does “a good job approving pesticides on an individual basis,” but not in explaining to the public its “holistic approach” to pesticide management. “Creating a holistic pesticide program for the future” is one of five goals he outlined in the speech for a potential second-term of the Trump administration. Asked for a definition, EPA said he means the agency will take a “more comprehensive, less ad hoc” approach to regulation.

But Wheeler offered few specifics on how regulation would change. He said EPA would take into account advances in biotechnology, mentioning specifically a proposed rule “that would remove onerous and expensive regulation of gene-edited plant protectants.” He also said EPA would perform “better examinations of new active ingredients” and “safeguard pollinators to support the agriculture industry.”

Environmental groups have criticized and sued the agency for approving pesticides they say are harmful to pollinators.

Overall, the speech focused on the importance of “tearing down silos” between programs at EPA and putting more resources into “community-driven environmentalism.”

“We could do a lot of good if the federal government, through Congress, puts resources to work with a fierce focus on community-driven environmentalism that promotes community revitalization on a greater scale,” Wheeler said.

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