EPA Sued Over Chlorpyrifos Ban

Ag Groups Ask Court to Halt and Revoke EPA's Pending Chlorpyrifos Ban

Emily Unglesbee
By  Emily Unglesbee , DTN Staff Reporter
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A group of 21 ag trade groups launched a last-minute lawsuit to try to halt and revoke EPA's chlorpyrifos ban, set to go into effect on Feb. 28. (DTN file photo)

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- A group of 21 agricultural trade groups have filed a lawsuit against the EPA, demanding that the agency's pending chlorpyrifos ban be halted and ultimately revoked.

The lawsuit comes just weeks before the EPA is set to finalize its rule on Feb. 28 revoking the food tolerances for chlorpyrifos, an act which will effectively ban legal use of the insecticide among U.S. farmers. That rule was issued by the Biden EPA in August 2021, in response to an order from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit.

(See more here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….)

The agricultural groups have filed a series of legal petitions in the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals. The filings first ask a federal judge to issue a stay, halting the EPA's pending ban, until the lawsuit can be reviewed. The lawsuit itself asks the judge to vacate the EPA's rule revoking food residue tolerances, based on its harm to agriculture, and the EPA's own history of re-registering and approving chlorpyrifos.

The EPA had issued a new interim registration for the insecticide in December 2020, before the Ninth Circuit handed down its order in April 2021, which led EPA to issue its food tolerance revocation, the groups note.

"EPA's proposed interim decision back in December 2020 for the re-registration of chlorpyrifos found 11 high-benefit, low-risk crop uses that the agency was confident 'will not pose potential risks of concern,'" said Brad Doyle, president of the American Soybean Association, in a joint press release by the American Soybean Association, American Farm Bureau, American Sugarbeet Growers Association and the Cherry Marketing Institute. "How can they now deny all uses, even when the court gave them options for keeping those found safe?"

This is the second attempt by ag stakeholders to halt the EPA's final rule banning chlorpyrifos use in agriculture. A group of 80 agricultural groups filed a formal objection with EPA back in October 2021, asking the agency to hold a hearing and halt implementation of the rule until the agency had considered their objections.

"The objections, hearing requests, and stay requests have not been addressed by EPA to date," the groups' press release noted. (See more from DTN on that formal objection here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….)

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide that has been plagued by legal problems over its alleged health effects since the 1990s, and its use had declined in agriculture in the past decade. Corteva, the largest registrant of the product, had discontinued its production of its branded chlorpyrifos product, Lorsban, in 2020.

However, the insecticide remained in use by row crop and specialty crop farmers to control a range of biting and sucking pests, such as aphids, spider mites and plant bugs.

"Chlorpyrifos is critical to the Michigan cherry industry, as there are no alternative products that effectively control trunk borers," noted Julie Gordon, president of Cherry Marketing Institute, in the press release.

(See the groups' press release here: https://soygrowers.com/….)

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

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Emily Unglesbee