EPA Doesn’t Need to Change Pesticide Labels

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Federal regulators that strung along environmentalists for eights years about plans to label inert pesticides ingredients cannot be sued, a federal judge ruled.
     At issue here is an EPA requirement for pesticide manufacturers to list active, but not inert, ingredients, on their labels.
     In 2006, the Center for Environmental Health and Californians for Pesticide Reform petitioned the EPA to require the labeling of 374 inert chemicals on pesticide bottles that “have been determined to be hazardous under other environmental laws and regulated as such by the EPA.”
     Though the group lost its court battle, a spokesperson with the EPA said relief may still be at hand because the agency “is considering reviewing the inert ingredients in the petition currently listed for use in pesticides to determine which ones are still used in pesticides.”
     It is possible that such analysis could prompt revisions to “the list of inert ingredients approved for use in pesticide products,” the spokesperson added.
     Once the EPA has criteria for prioritization, it can then select “top-candidate inert ingredients for further analysis and potential action to address those risks.”
     Carolyn Cox with the Center for Environmental Health voiced disappointment with the outcome.
     “The agency had really been looking at good changes for progress on the issue and has now just backed off,” she said in a telephone interview.
     Center for Environmental Health had brought its lawsuit in 2009, after waiting three years for a response to its petition.
     That action prompted the EPA to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the issue of disclosing inert ingredients, including nonhazardous chemicals. The EPA emphasized, however, that it was “not committing, and indeed legally cannot commit, to any particular outcome for rulemaking.”
     Though the group withdrew its complaint because of this development in 2010, it filed another suit this year because the EPA took no further action on the matter after four years.
     The EPA had told the court that it was exploring different approaches to the issue and would not pursue making a rule that mandates disclosure of inert.
     Though the environmental challengers noted that the EPA had taken eight years to fully respond to and deny their petition, U.S. District Judge William Orrick dismissed the case last week.
     The EPA committed to nothing beyond issuing the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, effectively concluding all action on the plaintiffs’ petitions, the 6-page ruling states. [p. 5 lines 6-13]
     “That the EPA has indicated that it is considering (but not committing to) action which arguably parallels part of what the plaintiffs requested in their original petition does not mean that the EPA has retroactively granted the portion of the plaintiffs’ petition that the EPA denied in 2009,” Orrick wrote (parentheses in original). “Plaintiffs are understandably frustrated that they may be no closer to fulfilling their goal eight years after petitioning the EPA to require that pesticide product labels list hazardous inert ingredients. But the EPA has unambiguously ‘concluded’ the ‘matters’ presented to it in plaintiffs’ petitions, as required under the Administrative Procedures act, 5 U.S.C. §553(e), and I can offer the plaintiffs no relief. This matter is moot, a deficiency which cannot be cured by amendment.”
     Cox said the groups “have not had time to strategize about the next best approach,” but said they “definitely have some next steps,” including filing another petition.
     “Because pesticides are something we are all exposed to every day, there are a lot of compelling reasons to know the ingredients,” she said.
     One such reason is giving doctors the information necessary to treat any patient who might be poisoned by a particular pesticide.
     “This has been an important, controversial issue for decades, and we will keep working with [the EPA] until we can make some progress on it,” Cox said. “We are definitely not going away.”

%d bloggers like this: