Daily News Archive
Pesticide Failures Draws Legal Action
Pseudo-Science at EPA Puts Salmon at Risk From Pesticides
(Beyond Pesticides, July 27, 2004) Conservation and
fishing groups put the Environmental Protection Agency on notice yesterday
that it will face legal action unless it adequately protects salmon
from pesticides, as required by law. The groups, represented by Earthjustice,
sent the EPA a 60-day
notice of intent to sue after the EPA rubber-stamped its approval
of a number of pesticides that threaten salmon populations.
EPA action on the pesticides came after a federal district court ordered
a review of the pesticides because of their potential danger to federally
protected salmon. EPA's cursory review was lambasted by NOAA Fisheries,
the federal agency that holds primary responsibility for enforcing salmon
protections. NOAA Fisheries found, "After review of the submitted
information, NOAA Fisheries does not concur with EPA's effects determinations."
Read the NOAA Fisheries letter here.
"Pesticides are deadly by design and they'll kill baby salmon after
the poisons wash off fields, orchards, and lawns into salmon streams.
EPA's job is to regulate their use so they don't violate the Endangered
Species Act, but their own sister agency in the federal government has
found them failing miserably at this obligation," said Patti Goldman
The groups, which include the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's
Associations, the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides,
and the Washington Toxics Coalition, are challenging EPA's determinations
of the effects of certain pesticides on salmon. These determinations
suggest what actions the EPA must take to safeguard water quality and
The main weaknesses in EPA's reports on the pesticides include:
1. Despite the fact that 90 percent of our nation's urban streams are
contaminated with pesticides, EPA failed to assess the risks of urban
pesticide use on salmon.
2. EPA continually ignores the concerns raised by the wildlife biologists
at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NOAA Fisheries), the two federal agencies with the greatest
understanding of salmon biology.
3. EPA lacks necessary expertise on salmon life stages and habitat requirements.
These charges echo the concerns voiced by scientists at both FWS and
In its draft letter, NOAA Fisheries disputed EPA findings, and insisted
that EPA conduct a much more extensive analysis of the effects of pesticides
"EPA is trying to get away with decades-old science instead of
doing right by the salmon," said Erika Schreder of Washington Toxics
Coalition. "We're holding EPA accountable for truly complying with
the Endangered Species Act because giving it lip service doesn't help
"We will not sit back and let EPA make a mockery of the ESA,"
said Aimee Code of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides.
"EPA's reports on the risks pesticides pose to salmon are an embarrassment
to the scientific community. Now we're putting EPA on notice: either
take steps to truly protect salmon or face another lawsuit."
The action comes as the Bush administration and the EPA prepare to change
the way pesticide impacts on wildlife are evaluated in ways that favor
pesticide makers and users at the expense of imperiled wildlife. The
EPA proposed regulations in January 2004 that would exclude the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries, the two expert wildlife
agencies in the federal government, when determining whether pesticides
threaten endangered species. The EPA proposes to assume near-complete
responsibility for assessment of pesticide impacts known as "self
consultation," despite its dismal track record and complete lack
of knowledge of the biologic aspects of species needing protection.
The proposal would also allow the agrochemical industry to control the
research on the environmental impacts of its products, with special
rights in the process not shared by the public. There has been widespread
opposition to the EPA's proposed changes, including a letter of "serious
concern" sent in June 2004 by 66 members of Congress. Conservation
and pesticide reform organizations challenged the scientific basis and
legality of these rules and close to 20,000 people submitted comments
in opposition to these changes.
For more information, contact Patti Goldman, Earthjustice, 206-343-7340
ex 30, Erika Schreder, Washington Toxics Coalition, 206-632-1545 x19,
or Aimee Code, Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, 541-344-5044.
TAKE ACTION: Contact Mr. Michael Leavitt,
EPA Administrator, by e-mail: [email protected],
phone: 202-564-4711, or fax: 202-501-1470 to express your views on EPA's
management of salmon, and urge action to protect this vital resource.