Group Sues USFWS on Pesticides

Environmental Group Asks Court to Force USFWS to Respond to Pesticides Petition

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service alleging the agency violated the law by not evaluating pesticides and their effect on endangered species. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- An environmental group sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (UFWS) on Thursday after a more than four-year-old petition to restrict pesticides use in critical habitats has gone unanswered by the agency.

The Center for Biological Diversity is asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to declare USFWS in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and to order the agency to respond within 90 days.

The center filed a petition with USFWS on Jan. 7, 2019, asking for pesticide restrictions in habitats for threatened and endangered species. The Biden administration's EPA has been conducting Endangered Species Act reviews on agriculture chemicals.

"This persistent delay in failing to respond to the petition allows toxic pesticides to continue to contaminate species' critical habitats designated pursuant to the Endangered Species Act," the center said in its lawsuit.

"As set forth in more detail below, current Environmental Protection Agency assessments of just 12 pesticide active ingredients determined that the majority of designated critical habitats may be affected by their use."

The Administrative Procedure Act requires federal agencies including USFWS to respond to petitions in a "reasonable time."

Among those 12 pesticides, the center said EPA's recent biological evaluation found the chemicals harm a "majority" of about 800 designated critical habitats.

"These 12 nationwide pesticide biological evaluations tell only part of the story," the lawsuit said.

"EPA has not yet determined whether hundreds of other pesticide active ingredients may affect critical habitats."

The center stated it identified 42 threatened and endangered species that would benefit most from protecting critical habitats.

Of the 42 species, the lawsuit said, the EPA determined the critical habitats are likely adversely affected by eight or more of the 12 pesticides.

EPA completed an evaluation of the following chemicals: chlorpyrifos (2018), diazinon (2018), malathion (2018), carbaryl (2021), methomyl (2021), glyphosate (2021), atrazine (2021), simazine (2021), imidacloprid (2022), thiamethoxam (2022), clothianidin (2022) and sulfoxaflor (2023).

The center's original petition was filed, the group said in a letter to USFWS in March, because of the EPA's "systemic failure to address the harm that pesticides cause to threatened and endangered species."

The center said pesticides represent a "substantial or even primary threat" to hundreds of endangered species.

According to USFWS's recovery plans for more than 250 threatened and endangered species, pesticides are listed as known threats to their recovery, the center said in the intent-to-sue letter.

Read more on DTN:

"Group Threatens Pesticides Species Suit,"…

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