Pesticide Approval System to be Revamped, According to EPA

On Tuesday, April 11, EPA released its first-ever workplan to protect endangered species from pesticides. 

This comprehensive plan, EPA says, meets at the intersection of opportunity and obligation in the Endangered Species Act (ESA), while maintaining pesticide access to farmers and other users.

EPA believes the current pesticide approval system has major setbacks that make the process “unsustainable and legally tenuous.” It currently has nearly 20 years of work to complete in pending litigation or court-enforceable deadlines covering over 1,000 pesticide products for the ESA. 

“The workplan reflects EPA’s collaboration with other federal agencies and commitment to listening to stakeholders about how they can work with the Agency to solve this longstanding challenge,” says EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

How it Works

Courts historically determine ESA cases for the EPA, but this new workplan will provide a path for the agency to fast-track meeting ESA obligations on its own.

EPA’s workplan outlines four strategies:

1.    Meet ESA obligations by prioritizing tasks into three tiers that will create engagement with existing court-enforceable pesticides and new registrations, pesticides that do not have a court-enforceable deadline and new conventional and non-conventional pesticides like biopesticides, in that order.

2.    Improve approaches to identifying and requiring ESA protection to address pesticide effects, especially for species facing the greatest risk from pesticides.

3.    Improve efficiency and timeliness of the ESA process by developing ways to assess all pesticides intended for a particular use at the same time, while adding data from local and regional locations on species, protection measures and pest control practices.

4.    Improve stakeholder engagement by seeking help to gather more and better data for ESA assessments while hosting in-depth conversations with growers and other pesticide users.

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory says the new workplan allows agriculturalists to “better protect” wildlife, imperiled species, and ecosystems.

The agency says it will call on federal and state agencies, as well as stakeholders, to carryout the four strategies in coming months.