Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 6, 2017

Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121 

Seven States Challenge Trump EPA Decision Approving Brain-damaging Pesticide

State Attorneys General Question Legality of Sudden Reversal of Planned Ban on Chlorpyrifos

WASHINGTON— Attorneys general from seven states announced today they are challenging the decision by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to approve ongoing use of chlorpyrifos, a dangerous pesticide known to cause brain damage in children.

“There's a good reason this dangerous toxin has been banned from indoor use for more than a decade and the EPA's own scientists recommended ending its use on food,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity “There is no question that this pesticide causes serious harm to people and wildlife so there should be no question that it should be banned, period.”

In November 2016 the EPA announced a plan to ban use of the pesticide on food crops. But shortly after taking over as the agency's administrator earlier this year, Scott Pruitt announced, with no explanation, a reversal of this recommendation and allowed the continued use of the pesticide.

The seven attorneys general charge that the EPA wrongly approved the continued use of this dangerous pesticide on fruits and vegetables without first assessing its safety as required under the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Today's challenge was filed by attorneys general from New York, California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington and Vermont. Click here to read the filing.

In the weeks following Pruitt's reversal, Dow Chemical requested that the EPA abandon its legally mandated requirements to assess the impacts of chlorpyrifos on endangered species and indefinitely delay implementing common sense measures to protect them. 

Dow's back-channel campaign to get the agency to abandon a nearly four-year effort to protect endangered species from these pesticides is revealed in letters in which Dow urges the Trump administration and Pruitt to withdraw “biological evaluations” that were finalized in January detailing how three highly toxic organophosphate insecticides — chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon — harm nearly all 1,800 threatened and endangered animals and plants.

Over the past six years, Dow has donated $11 million to congressional campaigns and political action committees and spent an additional $75 million lobbying Congress. In Dow was one of three companies that donated $1 million to the Trump inauguration.

“The Trump administration is putting our children and our most endangered wildlife at risk simply to pay off a political debt to Dow,” said Hartl. “The stench from Trump's special-interest swamp is growing by the day.”

Around 5 million pounds of chlorpyrifos are used in the United States every year on crops like corn, peanuts, plums and wheat. A recent study at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested had detectable levels of chlorpyrifos.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and supporters dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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