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- In granting a motion to dismiss the groups’ “Mega” lawsuit, Judge Joseph C. Spero said the plaintiffs — the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network North America — had not alleged specific government actions sufficient for the lawsuit to proceed.
“This next chapter should look holistically at the entirety of modern agriculture and examine how our nation’s farming systems continue to evolve and improve to benefit all wildlife — including endangered species — and their habitats.”
“This significant decision paves the way for improvements to the ESA consultation process that can serve the needs of both endangered species and agriculture,” added Rachel Lattimore, senior vice president and general counsel for CLA.
“This outcome re-affirms our government’s pesticide registration process under FIFRA and also the work of EPA in protecting threatened and endangered species.”
“Despite today’s ruling, we won’t allow the EPA to ignore its duty to protect endangered species and human health from toxic pesticides,” said the Center for Biological Diversity’s Miller.
“We’ll do everything we can to ensure harmful chemicals aren’t allowed to contaminate the places endangered species rely on for their survival.”
The 2011 lawsuit sought protection from pesticides for 214 endangered and threatened species throughout the United States, including the Florida panther, California condor, piping plover, black-footed ferret, arroyo toad, Indiana bat, bonytail chub and Alabama sturgeon.
Miller said documents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA, as well as peer-reviewed scientific studies, indicate these species are harmed by the pesticides at issue.
“For decades the EPA has registered pesticides without input from expert federal agencies to evaluate harmful impacts to wildlife. Hundreds of scientific studies document harm to endangered wildlife from pesticides, and there is evidence of widespread contamination of groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats throughout the country.”
Miller said EPA has refused to initiate formal consultations required under the Endangered Species Act, preventing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service from evaluating pesticide risks to imperiled wildlife and from restricting harmful pesticide uses.
“This is a disappointing ruling for endangered species on Earth Day,” said Miller. “But the court’s decision does not change the fact that the EPA’s pesticide registration program is completely broken and that the agency is not keeping toxic chemicals out of sensitive wildlife habitats.”
Additional co-intervenors in the case include Mid America CropLife Association, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, Southern Crop Production Association and the Western Plant Health Association. The American Chemistry Council, the American Farm Bureau Federation and Reckitt Benckiser, among others, are also intervenors in the case.