Tuesday, April 30, 2019

EPA ordered to decide whether to ban chlorpyrifos for good

A federal appeals court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to make a final decision within 90 days on whether it will ban a popular pesticide linked to developmental disorders in children. Last year the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit "ordered the EPA to remove chlorpyrifos from use within 60 days of an August ruling, ending what would have been a decade-long fight by health advocates to ban the substance," Miranda Green reports for The Hill. "However, the Trump administration promptly appealed that ruling, and the court agreed to rehear the case." It ruled Friday.

Chlorpyrifos was first developed in World War II for use in chemical warfare, but has been used for years on crops such as strawberries, oranges, corn and wheat. The EPA banned it for residential use in 2001 and proposed a total ban during President Obama's tenure, but Scott Pruitt, President Trump's first EPA administrator, reversed that order. Pruitt wrote that the science linking chlorpyrifos to neurological effects in children was "unresolved" and that further study was necessary, Green reports.

In the weeks leading up to Pruitt's decision, he secretly promised farm lobbies that he was listening to their concerns, according to internal documents obtained by The New York Times. Pesticide makers also lobbied Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, then the deputy secretary, to block a 2017 study that could have led to tighter restrictions on two pesticides. The Fish and Wildlife Service study found that chlorpyrifos and malathion were so toxic that they threatened the existence of more than 1,200 endangered species.

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