On January 20, 2011 the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network of North America filed a lawsuit against the EPA for allegedly failing to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) before approving pesticide use. Agricultural organizations such as the National Corn Growers Association have joined the lawsuit to ensure they have a seat at the table.
The lawsuit is 411 pages long (link here if you want to read it) and includes just about every pesticide under the sun; including atrazine and 2,4-D. The groups are asking for an order forcing the EPA to initiate formal consultations with the FWS and NMFS regarding the listed pesticides. The groups true goal is the FWS and NMFS recommend severe restrictions on pesticide use to prevent harming any of the two hundred endangered species listed in the lawsuit.
Granted, I may be overly-optimistic that a environmental lawsuit filed in January 2011 will be determined in 2012. However, the EPA has lost similar cases in the past and courts have initiated restrictions on the use of the pesticides until formal consultations were completed. Consequently, the EPA may be willing to discuss settling the lawsuit sooner than later through voluntary consultations and/or restrictions in order to avoid litigation.
The lawsuit could be a landmark case considering it is the most comprehensive action filed under the Endangered Species Act. Whether the groups are successful on all of their claims is unknown, but some sort of future restrictions on pesticide use would not be surprising.
For a summary of the lawsuit check out the Center’s press release.
As a side note, the USDA may be close to approving genetically modified crops to withstand 2,4-D. As you may guess, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition does not approve, which you can read about here.