Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 1, 2023


Hannah Connor, (202) 681-1676,

Legal Agreement Will Help Protect Endangered Wildlife From Pesticides Applied to Waterways

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity has reached a legal agreement requiring two federal agencies to assess harms to threatened and endangered wildlife from the direct application of pesticides to waters.

Under the agreement the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must complete consultations under the Endangered Species Act to prevent harm to protected species such as bull trout, pallid sturgeon and Oregon spotted frogs.

“For over a decade, federal agencies have ignored how spraying pesticides into the water harms bull trout, pallid sturgeon and dozens of other protected species. That changes today,” said Hannah Connor, an attorney at the Center. “This victory will help endangered species across the country, along with the rivers and streams we all depend on.”

The nationwide pesticide general permit is issued by the EPA under the Clean Water Act every five years. It establishes the requirements for pesticide applications directly to water for purposes such as aquatic weed control, mosquito spraying and forest canopy pest control.

In three previous instances, the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to complete endangered species consultations, even when requested by the EPA. Under the new agreement, the Service will complete consultations prior to the finalization of the next permit by no later than 2025.

The agreement also requires that the EPA take additional actions to improve pollution monitoring and other permit compliance requirements under the Clean Water Act to protect freshwater species against harm from these pesticide applications between now and 2025.

The agreement resolves a 2021 lawsuit filed by the Center in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that challenged the EPA’s failure to complete a required endangered species consultation with the Service prior to issuing the pesticide general permit in 2021. The lawsuit also challenged the permit for failing to comply with monitoring and recordkeeping obligations under the Clean Water Act.

A similar failure to assess harms to freshwater species occurred in 2016, when the previous general permit was finalized.

In finalizing the permit, the EPA did complete consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service. As a result, the permit already includes protections for oceangoing species like Pacific salmon and steelhead. Consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service under this legal agreement will expand those protections to dozens of freshwater species.

“This agreement is important progress for improving the health of our rivers and streams and the incredible critters that rely on them,” said Connor. “My hope is that it will be a wake-up call for the Fish and Wildlife Service to fully embrace its critical role in preventing harm from pesticides to protected species.”

Oregon spotted frog/USGS Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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