On October 3, 2011, a federal court in San Francisco granted the parties’ motion to stay an ESA pesticides case until November 18, 2011. The purpose of the stay is to allow the parties more time to try to settle the case. There is a court status conference on the case scheduled for November 18, 2011. This case involves the NGO plaintiffs’ allegations that EPA has violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with NMFS and FWS on hundreds of pesticides.
The Stay Motion and Order is attached below.
On September 27, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published Federal Register notice of FWS’ partial finding on a 90-day finding to list 404 species in the southeastern United States as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The FWS found that for 374 of the 404 species, the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing may be warranted. FWS is, therefore, initiating a status review of the 374 species to determine if listing is warranted. On October 6, 2011, FWS found that listing another 11 of these species is not warranted. These FWS actions are pursuant to a 2010 petition submitted by Center for Biological Diversity and other groups, and a settlement reached this summer between FWS and the NGO groups. CBD’s website on this petition and settlement can be accessed at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/species_agreement/index.html.
The Association of American Pesticide Control Officials/State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group has published an issue paper laying out its concerns and providing several recommendations in the area of Endangered Species Act consultations between EPA, NMFS and FWS on pesticides. This paper is entitled, “Endangered Species Act Consultation for Pesticide Registration.” SFIREG sent this paper to EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Director Steven Bradbury on Sept. 6, 2011.
Click here to read SFIREG’s position paper.
The Working Committee on Pesticide Operations Management, a subcommittee of the State FIFRA Issues & Evaluation Group, met on September 20, 2011. At its meeting, the Committee decided to draft a letter to EPA regarding the Agency’s development of a general permit for pesticide discharges under the Clean Water Act. The letter will ask EPA to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit for an additional six months to complete the general permit. Motivating the Committee’s letter is the number of states that aren’t ready to issue their own permits by the Oct. 31 deadline, and the inadequate time for states under direct EPA permitting authority to implement EPA’s general permit. EPA’s draft general permit presents several controversial ESA issues. EPA is still in consultation with NMFS and FWS on these issues.
The Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee will hold a public meeting on October 12-13, 2011. A draft agenda will be posted by September 26, 2011, at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ppdc/.
Four PPDC workgroup meetings are also scheduled for October 11, 2011: Integrated Pest Management, Comparative Safety Statements, Pollinator Protection, and the 21st Century Toxicology/Integrated Testing Strategies Workgroup’s Workshop on Diagnostic Tools and Biomarkers in Pesticide Medical Management, Exposure Surveillance, and Epidemiologic
Research. The PPDC Public Health Work Group is planning to meet on October 13, 2011, following the PPDC meeting.
On September 22, 2011, EPA published Federal Register notice that EPA has submitted to the office of Management and Budget an Information Collection Request for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permits for Point Source Discharges from the Application of Pesticides to Waters of the United States. This ICR is submitted for OMB review and approval under the federal Paperwork Reduction Act. This ICR calculates the burden and costs associated with information collection and reporting activities from EPA and State NPDES general permits
A previous article reported that the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians had filed separate lawsuits in different courts against the Fish and Wildlife Service, alleging that FWS failed to comply with statutory deadlines for listing various species under the Endangered Species Act. All the CBD and WEG lawsuits were consolidated in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. On September 9, 2011, the court issued separate orders approving settlements between CBD and FWS, and between WildEarth Guardians and FWS.
The key documents are attached below.
On September 8, 2011, EPA published a press release announcing that the National Academy of Sciences has convened an Expert Committee to address scientific issues in developing biological opinions for pesticides under the Endangered Species Act. EPA’s press release explains:
This spring EPA and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Interior requested the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council convene a committee of independent experts to review scientific and technical issues that have arisen as the federal agencies carry out their joint responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The NAS has now selected the committee members. The NAS committee is expected to begin meetings this fall.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated in a recent settlement agreement that California pesticide regulators discriminated against Latino schoolchildren when they annually approved a pesticide used near their schools. The settlement includes the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
EPA made this discrimination finding as part of a settlement stemming from a civil rights complaint filed in 1999. According to the complaint, the California Department’s annual renewal of methyl bromide registration had a disproportionately adverse impact on Latino children because their schools were often close to farm fields. Under the settlement, the state will expand monitoring of methyl bromide levels in Watsonville, the area of highest risk.
The Association of American Pesticide Control Officials/State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG), Environmental Quality Issues (EQI) Working Committee will hold a 2-day meeting, beginning on October 17, 2011 and ending October 18, 2011. The meeting will be held on Monday, October 17, 2011 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon on Tuesday October 18, 2011. The meeting will be held at EPA, One Potomac Yard (South Bldg.) 2777 Crystal Dr., Arlington VA, 1st Floor South Conference Room.
The meeting agenda includes the following topics: