EPA Faces Deadline to Act on Pesticide Challenge

     SEATTLE (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency must decide by the end of the month whether to ban the widely used insecticide chlorpyrifos, the Ninth Circuit said Wednesday.
     Though the Environmental Protection Agency canceled most of the product’s residential uses over a decade ago, Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the agency in 2007 to revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations for the product.
     With roughly 10 million pounds of chlorpyrifos used in agricultural settings, treating crops, golf courses and wood, activists say that its prevalence puts farm workers at risk and that children exposed to the product can suffer long-term neurological problems.
     The EPA missed several self-imposed deadlines for making a decision on the pesticide, prompting the environmentalists to seek a writ of mandamus from the Ninth Circuit in 2012. Mandamus relief compels a public agency or governmental body to act on a usually neglected legal requirement.
     After a 2013 hearing in the case before the Ninth Circuit ended with the parties agreeing to mediation, a three-judge panel gave the EPA on Wednesday a deadline to decide its next step.
     By June 30, 2015, the EPA must file a status report that indicates whether it will finalize the preliminary denial of the activists’ petition, the order states.
     The final denial would then be due by Sept. 15.
     Regulators could still decide, however, to grant the activists’ petition. If that is the case, the EPA has more flexibility on when it intends to issue a final ruling to that effect.
     “Further, EPA shall provide the court with an explanation as to why it believes the proposed date is a reasonable, good faith timeline for final resolution of the petition,” the order states.
     The environmentalists have until July 15 to file a response to the EPA’s decision and timeline for implementation.
     Their attorney, Patti Goldman with Earthjustice, called for action.
     “It is time for EPA to protect children in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that this pesticide causes brain damage in children,” Goldman said in a statement.
     The EPA did not immediately return a request for comment.

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