The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals shot down a request from several environmental organizations seeking to force the EPA to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The court said the plaintiffs, led by the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), failed to first file the challenge directly with the EPA, a necessary step before taking the matter to court.
The groups, PANNA, Earthjustice, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, first filed a lawsuit in 2014 aimed at getting the EPA to respond to the groups’ petitions to ban chlorpyrifos. The new lawsuit contended that the EPA took too long to respond to the 2014 petitions.
But the 9th Circuit judges said the EPA did work within the assigned schedule to review the chemical's safety risks.
“This victory affords EPA the necessary time to conduct a proper evaluation under the law of the science and the studies on chlorpyrifos and provide clarity about the pesticide's safety to the American people,” the EPA’s spokeswoman Amy Graham said in a statement.
According to Earthjustice, one of the plaintiffs, chlorpyrifos is sprayed on numerous crops including corn, wheat, apples, and citrus. Exposure to chlorpyrifos can cause damage to developing brains in children, including reduced IQ levels, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders.
The EPA substantiated these findings in its own research on the pesticide, but Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA questioned the findings and said a ban on the chemical could be cost prohibitive for the nation’s farmers.
“We’re disappointed,” Patti Goldman, a lawyer with Earthjustice and the lead attorney on the case, said in a statement, “because delay means more children will be exposed to this nasty pesticide before it’s banned,” she said.
Earthjustice has appealed the 9th Circuit Court ruling, filing another petition with the EPA, as well as another lawsuit. The Attorney General for New York, Eric Schneiderman, has also filed a challenge with the EPA for the state of New York and six other Democrat-led states, reports The Hill. And the groups are prepared to file more lawsuits if the EPA rejects the new petitions.
“The decision to keep it on the market is so blatantly illegal that this is really just a bump in the road," Goldman said.
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