A settlement giving EPA until 2027 to evaluate the effects of four pesticides on endangered species has been approved by a federal appeals court.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to grant a request by EPA, environmental groups and pesticide manufacturers that allows EPA to finish biological evaluations by Sept, 30, 2025, on two of four pesticides: flupyradifurone, bicyclopyrone, benzovindiflupyr, or halauxifen-methyl. EPA would then have until Sept. 30, 2027, to finish biological evaluations on the remaining two pesticides.

The Endangered Species Act requires EPA to consult with federal wildlife agencies on the effects of pesticides on federally protected species, but EPA has routinely failed to meet that requirement over the years. The agency has issued a “workplan” to try to meet its ESA obligations earlier in the pesticide registration review process.

“Before registering a pesticide, EPA must consult with the statutorily specified agencies that have expertise on risks to species’ survival,” the court said. “But for decades EPA routinely skipped that step … . Even as the agency bypassed its ESA obligations, its backlog of FIFRA registration requests mounted. The inadequacies of the registration system have drawn attention across government, but noncompliance persists.”

The environmental groups are the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety and Defenders of Wildlife. Joining them in seeking court approval for the agreement were EPA and pesticide registrants Bayer – flupyradifurone (Sivanto); Syngenta – bicyclopyrone (Acuron) and benzonvindiflupyr (Aprovia); and Corteva – halauxifen-methyl (Quelex).

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The court dismissed as moot a challenge to the registration of cuprous iodide, an antimicrobial used to preserve materials in fibers, floor coverings, plastics, and adhesives and sealants, “based on the parties’ report that EPA has complied to their satisfaction with the proposed settlement regarding that pesticide ingredient.”

The court’s order comes just days after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered EPA to assess the impacts of sulfoxaflor on endangered species, and about a month after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals did the same in an order on cyantraniliprole.

“We trust that the duties the settlement imposes will be timely fulfilled without detracting from broader, ongoing efforts to resolve EPA’s acknowledged, systemic failures to meet its ESA obligations when registering pesticides,” the D.C. Circuit said Tuesday.

The majority, Circuit Judges Sri Srinivasan and Cornelia Pillard, disagreed with objections from Circuit Judge Sonia Rao, who filed a partial dissent saying the court was overstepping its authority.

“Far from putting us in control of EPA, the (proposed) order itself commits us to stand by for a defined period to enable EPA to comply with the parties’ private settlement of FIFRA claims involving four pesticides… . Critiques of agency takeover have no footing here,” Srinivasan and Pillard said.

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