This month, CPDA and other members of the Pesticide Policy Coalition (PPC) sent a letter to members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees as part of an outreach effort aimed at developing a more efficient and coordinated process by which pesticides are assessed for their potential impacts to listed species and habitats under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA, federal agencies are required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively known as the “Services”) to ensure a federal action does not jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or adversely modify its critical habitat. This ESA directive applies to all EPA pesticide licensing activities.
When EPA registers a pesticide, the Agency is required under FIFRA to ensure that the proposed action does not cause any unreasonable adverse effect to listed species or the environment. Unfortunately, EPA and the Services historically have differed in their approach to assessing pesticides for ESA impacts. This conflict has given rise to lengthy delays in the consultation process as well as endless litigation brought against EPA by environmental and public interest groups citing the lack of a procedural framework for FIFRA-ESA consultation. In addition, ambiguity in the definition of “best available scientific data” upon which ESA decisions are made has further contributed to the challenges of developing a streamlined process for consultation on the ESA effects of pesticides. Ultimately, farmers and growers are denied access to the beneficial pesticides they need because of the undue delay in bringing these products to market.
CPDA and other members of the PPC are working with Congress with the goal of establishing a more streamlined ESA consultation process for pesticides that eliminates the wasteful duplication of complicated study reviews and avoids the inordinate delays that impede the mechanism currently in place. In its letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the PPC stated:
“As the agency charged by Congress with regulating the human health and environmental safety of pesticides, EPA has decades of issue area expertise with these products and their impacts on the environment, including their potential toxicity and exposure to wildlife. That experience should be supplemented with the species expertise of the Services, but its work should be neither ignored nor duplicated. Potential threats to protected species and their habitat can be better assessed and more effectively regulated to encourage a more efficient, timely process, providing enhanced species review, along with greater regulatory certainty for growers, other users and manufacturers.”
CPDA will keep its members informed of this ongoing effort to improve and better coordinate the ESA consultation process between EPA and the Services.