EPA must consult wildlife officials about pesticide use

Yesterday a federal judge overturned a two-year-old regulation that allowed the U.S. EPA to approve pesticides without consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about toxic impact on rare animals and plants. Ruling in favor of nine environmental groups, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenor declared that the Bush administration had “plainly violated” the Endangered Species Act. The case is a bit of déjà vu: In 2001, the same green groups clashed with the same EPA over the same issue, and the same Coughenor ended up ordering the agency to evaluate the impacts of 55 pesticides on salmon. Instead, the agency created the rule that allowed it to bypass the USFWS, leading the green groups to sue again. Coughenor wrote that there was “overwhelming evidence on the record” that slackening the pesticide-approval process could harm endangered species. The EPA responded that there was overwhelming evidence off the record that the chemical industry didn’t feel like dealing with a bunch of silly rules about “species.”