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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Arizona Rancher Hits a Wall With Pesticide Suit

PHOENIX (CN) - The U.S. government does not have to face claims that it improperly allows the pesticide rotenone to poison Arizona creeks and harm native fish species, a federal judge ruled.

Verde River rancher George Yard and the Council for Endangered Species Act Reliability sued the Environmental Protection Agency last year under the citizen suit provision of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). They argued that the pesticide rotenone, which has been registered in the United States since 1947 and is used primarily to kill insects and eliminate invasive fish species, has been "directly linked with Parkinson's disease in humans."

The lawsuit claimed that the EPA violated the federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the ESA by re-registering the pesticide without consulting with wildlife officials. Rotenone, which has been used in creeks in central and southern Arizona, allegedly threatens several endangered aquatic and riparian species, including the Chiricahua leopard frog, Spikedace, Loach minnows, bonytail chubs, razorback suckers, Gila topminnows, Gila chubs, Sonora tiger salamanders and Southwestern willow flycatchers.

But U.S District Judge Stephen McNamee dismissed the complaint after reconsidering jurisdictional issues last week. Failure-to-consult claims under the ESA are "subject to FIFRA's exclusive review provision," the 10-page decision states.

The "FIFRA ... explicitly grants jurisdiction to the court of appeals for challenges to a registration review," McNamee wrote. "This specific statute trumps the ESA, which is a more generalized act governing citizen suits. Therefore, the court will dismiss this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction."

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