For Immediate Release,
November 19, 2020
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency today to withdraw a 2004 guidance document that allows the agency to ignore pesticides’ harms to the nation’s most endangered animals and plants.
The first-of-its-kind petition uses a new process finalized just today by the EPA. It allows anyone to petition the agency to rescind, modify or reinstate any of its guidance documents.
“The EPA’s practice of pretending pesticides don’t harm endangered species has accelerated the extinction crisis we’re now facing,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The agency shouldn’t be allowed to ignore the scientific reality that pesticides are devastating imperiled plants and animals. Our petition seeks to finally end these abusive, industry-friendly giveaways.”
Today’s petition challenges the 2004 Overview of the Ecological Risk Assessment Process: Endangered and Threatened Species Effects Determinations, a guidance document created in the George W. Bush administration.
As demonstrated by the EPA’s approval in October of “over-the-top” dicamba products, the Overview guidance has allowed the agency to routinely approve pesticides without implementing any site-specific protections for endangered species.
The analytical approach within the 2004 Overview guidance was extensively debunked and criticized in 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences, which provided extensive recommendations on how the EPA could better protect endangered species.
The new process for repealing guidance documents employed by today’s petition was pushed for by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as a political gift to industries and right-wing think tanks that have complained about the EPA’s use of guidance documents.
Despite the fact that guidance documents are necessary and completely legal under the Administrative Procedure Act and that Administrator Wheeler himself has drafted guidance during his tenure, Wheeler rushed to complete this new rule anticipating that industry could use it to cripple the EPA’s effectiveness in the future.
“Andrew Wheeler’s ideological fanaticism handed us a tool to pursue rescinding all the industry-friendly guidance documents that have hamstrung the EPA for decades,” said Hartl. “We’d like to thank Mr. Wheeler for not thinking this through.”