Monthly Archives :

April 2017

EPA Denies Petition Seeking Chlorpyrifos Ban

On March 29, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt signed an order announcing the Agency’s decision to deny a 2007 petition filed by the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) seeking the revocation of all tolerances for chlorpyrifos and the cancellation of all product registrations for the chemical.  The order appeared in the April 5, 2017 Federal Register.  Among the claims asserted by the petitioners was that EPA failed to adequately assess the potential for chlorpyrifos to cause neurodevelopmental effects in children at exposure levels below the Agency’s existing regulatory standard (10% cholinesterase inhibition).  In an effort to resolve the scientific issues surrounding the potential risks associated with chlorypyrifos, EPA committed to completing the expedited registration review of the chemical several years in advance of the October 1, 2022 statutory deadline.  Although EPA had expedited its registration review, the petitioners were not satisfied with the Agency’s progress in responding to the petition and filed a lawsuit in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to compel EPA to either issue an order denying the petition or to grant the petition by initiating the tolerance revocation process.

 

In August 2015, the Court issued a ruling in favor of the petitioners.  Following the judicial ruling, in November 2015 EPA issued for public comment a proposal to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances citing the uncertainties pertaining to the chemical’s potential to cause neurodevelopmental effects.  Subsequently, the 9th Circuit announced that it would retain jurisdiction over the chlorpyrifos matter and on August 12, 2016 directed EPA to issue a final decision on the petition no later than March 31, 2017.  In so doing, the Court made it clear that no further extensions in responding to the petition would be granted.  Pursuant to the Court order, in November 2016 EPA published for public comment notice of availability of its revised risk assessment for chlorpyrifos.

 

In its March 29, 2017 decision to deny the petition seeking a ban on the use of chloryprifos, the Agency states:

 

“Following a review of comments on both the November 2015 proposal and the November 2016 notice of data availability, EPA has concluded that, despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved and that further evaluation of the science during the remaining time for completion of registration review is warranted to achieve greater certainty as to whether the potential exists for adverse neurodevelopmental effects to occur from current human exposures to chlorpyrifos. EPA has therefore concluded that it will not complete the human health portion of the registration review or any associated tolerance revocation of chlorpyrifos without first attempting to come to a clearer scientific resolution on those issues. As noted, Congress has provided that EPA must complete registration review by October 1, 2022. Because the 9th Circuit’s August 12, 2016 order has made clear, however, that further extensions to the March 31, 201 7 deadline for responding to the Petition would not be granted, EPA is today also denying all remaining petition claims.”

 

EPA’s denial of the petition was applauded by Sheryl Kunickis, director of USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy who called it “a welcome decision grounded in evidence and science.”  Kunickis added, “It means that this important pest management tool will remain available to growers, helping to ensure an abundant and affordable food supply for this nation and the world.  This frees American farmers from significant trade disruptions that could have been caused by an unnecessary, unilateral revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances in the United States.  It is also great news for consumers, who will continue to have access to a full range of both domestic and imported fruits and vegetables.”

 

It is very likely that the petitioners will turn to the courts in an effort to overturn EPA’s recent decision.  CPDA will report on further developments on this issue as they occur.  The Agency’s decision denying the petition may be accessed by clicking here.

EPA Budget Memo Details Proposed FY 2018 Funding Cuts to EPA’s Pesticide Program Activities

An article appearing in the April 5, 2017 edition of “InsideEPA.com” details severe funding cuts expected to be proposed in the Trump Administration FY 2018 budget request for EPA that promise to impact a number of Agency programs, including the Office of Pesticide Programs.  According to the article, the proposed funding reductions are set forth in a March 21, 2017 budget memo prepared by David Bloom, EPA’s Chief Financial Officer.  The article reports that the President will propose a $5.7 million and 31.7 FTE (full-time equivalent) decrease from OPP FY 2016 enacted funding levels of $6.1 million and 324.8 FTEs for protecting human health from pesticide risk.  In addition, the article states that the President will propose a reduction of $4 million and 18 FTEs from the $4.6 million in FY 2016 funding and 207.9 FTEs for protecting the environment from pesticides.  The reduced OPP funding levels set forth in the memo are accompanied by a statement explaining that the President’s budget will include language to allow the pesticide program to use fees on a broader range of activities in the program thus preventing a reduction or slowing in pesticide reviews.  The memo further states, “The program has nearly $30 million of unspent fee carryover that can help support core work.”  Elsewhere the memo states, “Sizeable unobligated balances in EPA’s FIFRA fee accounts are to be used to offset FY 2018 funding levels.  Additionally, any potential additional fee collections from the upcoming reauthorization of PRIA could help offset reductions to the program.”

 

As reported previously, current FIFRA language states that in order to release funds collected by program participants, Congress must appropriate corresponding funds to support the program.  Funds are then released on a dollar-for-dollar accounting basis.  Fees that do not have a matching appropriation cannot be spent and are held by the Agency.  As a result of dwindling appropriations and hiring freezes over the years, EPA has amassed significant funds that cannot be expended on the activities for which they were intended.  CPDA is now working in an effort to secure appropriations committee report language affirming that these “frozen” funds should be released and used in support of the Agency’s pesticide product review activities.  In addition, CPDA is focusing its efforts in seeking FY 2018 OPP appropriations levels that will ensure EPA is equipped with the resources necessary to conduct product reviews under PRIA in accordance with the statutory time frames established by law.  CPDA will keep its membership apprized of further developments on this issue as they occur.