Daily News Archive
Bush Administration Eases Pesticide
(Beyond Pesticides, Aug 3, 2004) According to The
Seattle Times and Environment
News Service, on July 29, 2004 the Bush administration said it would
no longer require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to first
consult other agencies to see if a certain pesticide would be harmful
to endangered species. This makes it easier for the EPA to approve pesticides
used commercially and non-commercially and proposes a greater danger
to the plants and animals on the endangered species list.
The Endangered Species Act protects about 1,200 threatened animals
and plants. The federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 requires
the EPA to consult with federal fishery and wildlife agencies concerning
the registration of pesticides that might potentially harm protected
species, a complex task involving hundreds of chemicals. Over the past
few decades, few of those reviews ever got done.
Federal officials are marketing the change by saying that it is a more
efficient way to ensure that species are protected across the country.
However, conservationists are wary of the true effect of the change.
They believe that it will most likely result in the relaxation of the
criteria needed to protect endangered species such as the Northwest
salmon, which are harmed by low levels of some pesticides.
The EPA will do its own review of pesticides and the
risk they pose to the environment, including endangered species. However,
conservationists say that these reviews will not be as thorough and
won't have the same stringent criteria are those by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service and the National
Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Conservationists point to a
draft letter that the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration sent
to the EPA which challenged an EPA finding that 29 pesticides were not
likely to harm protected salmon runs. Erika Schreder of the Washington
Toxics Coalition said, "The EPA's science is not the best available
science" and "And the administration is trying to get away
with not finding harm by not using the science that would find the harm."
According to Jeff Miller of the Center
for Biological Diversity, "As a result of the EPA's subservience
to the pesticide industry there is currently very little oversight of
widely used chemicals that hit the market" and "Industry already
effectively controls both the registration process and scientific research"
and "The Bush administration's outrageous proposal to allow the
EPA to further circumvent the consultation process is the equivalent
of handing control of the Department of Health to the tobacco industry."
According to Environment News Service, "sixty-six members of the
House of Representatives, all Democrats, sent a letter opposing the
new regulations to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who has oversight
over the Fish and Wildlife Service, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans,
who oversees NOAA Fisheries, and EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt."
Acccording to Environment News Serivce, the wildlife agencies said they
would perform periodic reviews of the process by which EPA arrives at
their determinations of which pesticides to approve to ensure EPA is
making determinations that are consistent with the requirements of the
Endangered Species Act.
TAKE ACTION: Write to the Bush Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leavitt, EPA administrator and tell then that you oppose the change
made and support the checks and balances that the Endangered Species
Act provides against the destruction of endangered plants and animals
by harmful pesticides.