Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 13, 2017

Contact:  Stephanie Parent, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6404, sparent@biologicaldiversity.org
Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network North America, (916) 216-1082, ptowers@panna.org

Lawsuit Seeks Common-sense Measures to Protect Rare Wildlife From Harmful Pesticides

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America today filed an updated complaint to move forward with a comprehensive legal action following a legal victory earlier this year. This lawsuit seeks legally required, common-sense measures to protect endangered plants and animals from highly toxic pesticides.

In February the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the federal government, allowing this lawsuit to proceed to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s longstanding failure to assess the likely harms of pesticide products known to be toxic to endangered species found across the country. The scope of the amended complaint has narrowed and now covers products containing 38 pesticide active ingredients, down from 50 in the original complaint.

“Americans love birds, fish and other wildlife, and no one wants to see them unnecessarily hurt by toxic pesticides, especially species already struggling at the brink of extinction,” said Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney at the Center. “Pruitt’s EPA continues to refuse to obey the law and protect our most imperiled wildlife from harmful pesticides.”

The updated complaint focuses on the EPA’s registration of pesticide products, such as Dow’s controversial Lorsban, which contains the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos.

In January the EPA released its first rigorous nationwide analysis of the effects of three pesticides on endangered species, finding that 97 percent of the more than 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act are likely to be harmed by chlorpyrifos

In April the Center learned that Dow had asked the EPA and expert federal wildlife agencies to abandon four years of work on the assessments, a request that appears to have halted efforts by the agencies to determine the pesticides’ harms to endangered species.

These assessments are required as part of a 2014 legal settlement  with the Center and other conservation organizations.

Over the past six years Dow has donated $11 million to congressional campaigns and political action committees and spent an additional $75 million lobbying Congress. In January 2017 Dow was one of three companies that donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration. Shortly thereafter the EPA shocked public-health advocates by abruptly scrapping a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, which is known to cause brain damage in children.

“Scientists have documented the dangers these pesticides pose to people and endangered species, but the EPA continues to put the interests of chemical companies first,” said Parent. “This lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to recognize that it is not above the law and must establish reasonable safeguards to keep toxic chemicals from harming the nation’s most vulnerable wildlife.”

The lawsuit is the first step in determining what common-sense measures are necessary to prevent dangerous pesticides from harming endangered species such as Florida panthers, California condors, black-footed ferrets, arroyo toads, Indiana bats and Alabama sturgeon.

Extensive peer-reviewed scientific studies, and the conclusions of expert biologists at the Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA, clearly show that these animals are threatened by pesticides at issue in the case.

The EPA has registered thousands of pesticide products without ever analyzing how these toxic chemicals impact endangered wildlife.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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