Environmental Group Expands Lawsuit to Include 4 Additional Pesticides, Highlighting Potential Threat to Endangered Species

PHOENIX, Arizona – The Center for Biological Diversity has amended its existing lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to include four more pesticides, alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The lawsuit, originally filed in 2022, accuses the USFWS of failure to comply with the ESA in approving six pesticide registrations. The amended complaint adds atrazine, simazine, methomyl, and carbaryl to the list of pesticides in question.

The legal action began after the USFWS missed a December 2017 deadline to finalize ESA consultations with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the pesticides chlorpyrifos and diazinon. In June 2022, the National Marine Fisheries Service completed evaluations on chlorpyrifos and diazinon, determining that they posed a jeopardy to various species and habitats.

According to the amended lawsuit, evaluations by other federal agencies have also been completed for atrazine, simazine, methomyl, and carbaryl. The Center for Biological Diversity claims that EPA evaluations reached similar conclusions about atrazine and simazine, but the USFWS has yet to take action.

In 2017, the EPA determined that chlorpyrifos was likely to harm 97% of the animals and plants protected by the ESA, while diazinon was likely to harm 78% of those species. The ESA requires the USFWS to review the EPA’s pesticide findings promptly and implement measures to prevent harm to species.

The lawsuit argues that the USFWS has not acted expediently to ensure the registered uses of atrazine and simazine do not drive any species to extinction or modify critical habitat. The amended complaint calls for final biological opinions on each pesticide.

In recent years, there have been regulatory developments surrounding the use of these pesticides. In 2022, the EPA announced label changes for malathion, chlorpyrifos, and diazinon, with most of the changes applicable to users on the East Coast, West Coast, and in the north Atlantic states. In 2023, the EPA implemented national restrictions on malathion, primarily used for mosquito control.

Last year, a federal appeals court overturned the EPA’s ban on chlorpyrifos. The Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit seeks to address these regulatory concerns and ensure compliance with the ESA.

The amended lawsuit serves as an additional effort by the environmental group to protect endangered species and their habitats from the potential harmful effects of pesticides. As the legal process unfolds, it remains to be seen how the court will respond to these claims and the potential implications for pesticide regulations in the future.