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US Interior official under scrutiny for blocking pesticide report

by Britt E. Erickson
April 6, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 14


Chemical structure of chlorpyrifos.

Democrats in the US Congress are raising concerns about the Department of the Interior’s handling of a draft report on the impacts of two commonly used pesticides on endangered species. The report, which was prepared by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2017 but not publicly released, concluded that chlorpyrifos and malathion have harmful effects on hundreds of endangered species, according to documents released through Freedom of Information Act requests from the New York Times and the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group. In a March 29 letter, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) urged the Interior Department’s acting inspector general, Mary Kendall, to investigate whether Acting Secretary David Bernhardt, who in 2017 was deputy secretary, stopped the report from being released at the request of pesticide manufacturers that disputed the report’s findings. The allegations come as the Senate considers confirming Bernhardt for the top spot at the Interior. “It’s disgusting that after pesticide companies asked for evidence of catastrophic harm to endangered species to be buried, Bernhardt gladly pulled out the shovels,” the Center for Biological Diversity’s director of government affairs, Brett Hartl, says in a statement.


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