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Sunday, November 19, 2017
Tell your senators to oppose any legislative attempt to weaken ESA protections for species affected by pesticides
The pesticide industry is pushing a bill that threatens the survival of endangered species.
The pesticide industry is pushing secret legislation on Capitol Hill that would dismantle Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections against deadly pesticides. A version of this hidden bill was obtained by the Center for Food Security.
Toxic pesticides are one of the primary risks to endangered species. They threaten thousands of species, from California condors to Florida panthers, Sandhill Cranes to Atlantic salmon. Under current law, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is legally required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to minimize harm to endangered species from EPA-approved pesticides.
That requirement is effective. For example, in a case brought by CFS attorneys a federal court held that the approvals of 59 bee killing “neonic” pesticides were illegal because the EPA failed to comply with the ESA. But the new legislation promoted by the pesticide industry would erase this critical requirement. And the deadly harm of toxic pesticides to endangered species would only be assessed upon request by pesticide manufacturers – who obviously have zero incentive to put their own products under scrutiny. The proposal would also limit enforcement actions designed to prevent pesticides from killing or harming endangered wildlife.
Why would Congress make this dangerous change to the law? In April, DowDupont (formerly Dow Chemical) asked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to stop all efforts to fully assess the impacts of chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon, which have been shown to harm virtually all of America’s approximately 1,800 protected species. AndPruitt has apparently capitulated - the federal government’s efforts to protect endangered species from those three chemicals has been completely stalled.
Shortly after becoming EPA Administrator, Pruitt reversed a research-based decision by the agency’s scientists to ban use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos — which is linked to learning disabilities in children — on food crops, including apples and oranges. Pruitt approved chlorpyrifos use even though the EPA’s own research shows residues of the chemical on produce in amounts exponentially above levels the agency has determined to be safe.
If Pruitt won’t protect our children and farmworkers from the overuse of highly poisonous insecticides, then he certainly can’t be trusted to protect our endangered species from them. Beautiful species like Palos Verde Blue butterflies, rusty patched bumble bees, and even our majestic whooping cranes may all disappear if we are forced to trust Mr. Pruitt – but this bill removes all the checks on him.
In short, this new legislation would eviscerate meaningful protections for fish, wildlife, and plants under the Endangered Species Act.