EPA Notified of Impending Lawsuit Regarding Pyrethroid Pesticides’ Threat to Endangered Species

The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last Friday, notifying it of the non-profit’s intent to sue for alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) through the agency’s registration of more than 300 pesticide pyrethroid-based products in the last six years.

According to the Center’s press release, the EPA has sanctioned the use of pyrethroid pesticides in a number of settings including at residential properties, roadsides, and public recreation zones. They have allegedly been authorized in the agricultural sector for use on crops ranging from alfalfa to corn, cotton, and soybeans, to stone fruits.

The Center claims that the EPA has done so knowing that pyrethroid pesticides are one of the most harmful to aquatic wildlife in particular, as well as terrestrial wildlife and plants. For example, the non-profit says that the pesticides threaten endangered species like California tiger salamanders, California red-legged frogs, and Bay checkerspot butterflies.

“[T]he EPA has failed to take a single action to implement any on-the-ground conservation actions to protect any endangered species from these toxic chemicals,” the notice says.

Now, the EPA has 60 days to respond. The letter states the Center’s hope that the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention will engage and discuss the development of a work plan addressing the backlog of pesticides that have not undergone consultations to determine whether registration adversely impacts endangered species.

The letter notes that in August 2021, the non-profit sent the EPA a proposal for reducing the back-up. “Our approach would have avoided unnecessary litigation, provided certainty to pesticide registrants, and would have spurred the EPA to create a more efficient and effective process for deploying on-the-ground conservation measures,” the Center said.

The notice concludes that though the non-profit would prefer to proceed without the need for litigation, if the EPA does not act, it will sue and seek vacatur of each pyrethroid pesticide registration. The Center is represented by its own counsel.