The environmental protection agency has faced a continuous stream of lawsuits since the 1990s for failing to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) about the potential effects of pesticides on endangered species. At the root of the matter is EPA’s failure to incorporate endangered species consultations into safety reviews for pesticides that are already on the market.
EPA is required to evaluate such pesticides at least once every 15 years. What makes it so challenging is that EPA currently has more than 1,000 pesticide active ingredients scheduled for reevaluation over the next 10 years, and that could mean thousands of endangered species consultations.
Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), EPA must consult with FWS & NMFS if an action it takes, such as registering a pesticide, may affect an endangered species or its critical habitat. But if EPA initiates an endangered species consultation for each pesticide that comes up for reevaluation, FWS & NMFS don’t have the capacity to review this flood of registrations quick enough, meaning more endangered species becoming extinct. Federal agencies have not been able to keep up with their obligations under ESA, and the entire process has gotten bogged down in litigation.
EPA has been sued numerous times for failing to initiate endangered species consultations with FWS and NMFS, and the services have been sued for not responding in a timely manner. They have agreed to start working together to build endangered species consultations into future pesticide reevaluations.
Article Title: Pesticides and Endangered Species
Author: Britt E. Erikson
Publication Source: C&EN (chemical and engineering news)
Date: September 19, 2011
Student Researcher: Sara Iadavaia, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Forrest Deseran, Sonoma State University