California environmental regulators announced on Wednesday that the state will prohibit use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, a process that could take two years to complete. Even as California acted, the U.S. EPA was facing a court-imposed deadline of mid-July to decide on a federal ban of the pesticide.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco ordered the EPA to decide within 90 days — by mid-July — whether to ban agricultural use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, already barred from residential use. Environmental groups have campaigned for years to take the organophosphate pesticide out of use in the United States.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, announced a bill on Wednesday to effectively ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos from school food.
Facing an October deadline to ban the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, the EPA asked a federal appeals court on Monday for a rehearing of the case that resulted in the ban. The environmental law firm Earthjustice said the EPA request will postpone the court order of early August to ban the pesticide in 60 days.
On Thursday, the U.S Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the federal government 60 days to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is widely used in agriculture but criticized as a risk to children and farmworkers.
Syngenta announced this week that it will pay $550,000 in fines after the Environmental Protection Agency found that it misused the pesticide chlorpyrifos at a test field in Hawaii. The fine is dramatically lower than the nearly $5 million initially sought by the Obama administration. Scott Pruitt, Trump's EPA chief, overruled a recommendation by agency scientists to ban chlorpyrifos for agricultural use.
On the heels of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s eleventh-hour reversal last March of an Obama-era ban on chlorpyrifos — an insecticide that can permanently damage a child’s developing brain, according to the EPA’s own scientists — the agency is evaluating yet another family of controversial pesticides possibly linked to attention deficit disorders, cognitive problems, and autism.
A Trump administration appointee at EPA has taken an influential role in federal assessment of the risk posed by hazardous chemicals, "making it more aligned with the industry's wishes," reports the New York Times. The new approach includes the EPA decision in March to allow continued agriculture use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide criticized as a risk to children and farmworkers.
The new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, told a farm group, "[T]his is a new day, a new future, for a common-sense approach to environmental protection," in the weeks before the EPA announced it would allow continued agricultural use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, according to records obtained by the New York Times. Environmental groups say the records, provided through the Freedom of Information Act, show EPA was doing favors for industry; the EPA said it was following the science.