By Barbara Leonard, Courthouse News Service
(CN) — The Ninth Circuit scoffed Friday at the latest attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to drag its heels on banning a dangerous pesticide.
“EPA’s nine-year delay in taking action was ‘objectively extreme’ when we received [the] petition for mandamus, and nothing has changed that would justify EPA’s continued failure to respond to the pressing health concerns presented by chlorpyrifos,” the 4-page order (pdf) states.
Chlorpyrifos, introduced in 1965, is widely used to control pests that threaten more than 60 crops including almonds, walnuts, oranges, cotton and grapes.
The EPA barred the pesticide from homes in 2000, saying then that the action was “good news for the protection of our country’s public health,” but this rule did nothing to bar the chemical’s application in agricultural settings.
The groups noted that the chemical has poisoned many workers, children and rural families, and is linked to neurological impairments in children.
They petitioned the federal appeals court for mandamus relief after years passed with no action from the EPA on the petition.
Under deadline last year, the EPA proposed a ban that would revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances, ending all uses of the pesticide that result in residue on food, contamination of drinking water, or drift to schools, homes and other inhabited places.
The Ninth Circuit directed the EPA to take final action by Dec. 30, 2016, but still the agency waffled.
Friday’s order notes that the EPA cited “extraordinary circumstances” in requesting a six-month extension.
CropLife America and other industry groups meanwhile wanted a year-long delay, the court found.
The three-judge panel said its patience is wearing thin.