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Policy

Court Rejects Most Claims In Endangered Species Case

Federal court rules that challenges to pesticide approvals are time-barred

by Britt E. Erickson
August 22, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 34

A federal court has dismissed most of the arguments in a suit claiming that the Environmental Protection Agency approved dozens of pesticides without examining their impacts on endangered species.

The ruling leaves the door open, however, for the plaintiffs to refile complaints for 11 pesticides.

The matter began in January 2011 when the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups filed their original case. They claimed that EPA failed to consult with the Fish & Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service about the effects of 382 pesticides on more than 200 endangered species.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed that case in 2013, finding in part that the groups did not file their suit by a federal deadline for challenging a pesticide approval. But that ruling allowed the plaintiffs to amend their arguments.

Their newest complaint, filed earlier this year, involved 50 pesticides. In the latest ruling on Aug. 13, the court agreed with EPA that challenges regarding endangered species must be made at the time the agency reviews a pesticide. EPA is currently reviewing 11 of those 50 pesticides.

The pesticide industry welcomes the ruling but is urging EPA to resolve problems with its pesticide approval process outside the courtroom. “It is unfortunate that EPA must continue to devote its time and energy to this litigation,” says Jay J. Vroom, president and CEO of the industry group CropLife America.

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