Daily News Archive
From July 8, 2002

EPA Feels the Heat from First Lawsuit after Landmark Endangered Species/Pesticide Ruling

Federal Judge John Coughenour ruled on Wednesday July 3 that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by not setting guidelines for pesticides that are protective of endangered salmon. According to a recent ruling, EPA must consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on the potential of pesticides to harm endangered salmon. EPA has failed to consult the National Marine Fisheries Service since 1989 over the potential harm to fish from 55 commonly used pesticides.

"There are very few restrictions on using pesticides near water," said Erika Schreder of the Washington Toxics Coalition, one of the plaintiffs. "It is no surprise we see pesticides in our water practically whenever we look for them." The court's ruling could force EPA to cancel or severely restrict the use of some pesticides that have the potential to contaminate salmon habitat.

Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, another plaintiff, said the ruling could help restore wild salmon that, before starting a precipitous decline in the 1980s, supported a $1.25 billion fishing economy and 60,000 jobs.

Many pesticides have been found to affect salmon and other fish at levels often found in rivers in the Northwest. Environmental and fishing groups hope this ruling will help restore health swimming for this endangered and economically important fish.