WASHINGTON (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency cannot block a pesticide manufacturer from marketing its products to golf courses – a move that allegedly cost the company $20 million in annual business, a federal judge ruled.
American Vanguard’s pesticide product, which has been federally registered since 1985, prevents the accumulation of snow mold on golf course fairways and greens during winter months.
In 1993, the company discovered that the manufacturing process to create its product’s active ingredient, technical-grade PCNB, results in an impurity that is passed along to the pesticide. American Vanguard immediately reported the impurity to the EPA.
It says the agency issued a routine nonexpedited review and regularly approved updates and amendments to the products over the next 15 years. But the EPA claims that it was never aware that the impurity was present in all instances and only became aware of the problems in late 2009.
By 2010, the agency had ordered American Vanguard to stop using the pesticide.
Shortly thereafter, the company filed suit to block the EPA’s order.
On Aug. 17, Chief Judge Royce Lamberth said the EPA official behind the decision,
Waste and Chemical Enforcement Division director Rosemarie Kelly, lacked legal authority to issue the order.
Authority under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) rests with the EPA’s Pesticides and Tanks Branch, according to the 11-page ruling.
“The court finds nothing in the documents submitted by EPA to establish any transfer of FIFRA-related authority to the director of the W&C Division,” Lamberth wrote.
The judge dismissed the order over what he called a “minor procedural issue.”
“In doing so, however, the court is reminded that federal agencies, though absent from the Constitution, possess tremendous executive and legislative authority in our system of government, and it is therefore incumbent upon courts to ensure that such agencies follow the law, as well as their own rules and regulations,” he wrote.
Lamberth was apparently moved by American Vanguard’s claim that the stop-use order has wiped out $20 million in annual business. “The court will not stand idly by and permit significant action undertaken by an official who is not legally authorized to take it,” he wrote.