Lawsuit Attempts to Overturn Dicamba Re-Approval by EPA

Environmental and farming interest groups filed a petition for review in the Ninth Circuit on Monday against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s recent re-registration of dicamba based herbicides. The petitioners claimed that the EPA rushed the registration through and did not fulfill its duties to ensure that the herbicides were safe. 

Specifically, the petition purports that the EPA violated its duties under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. It claims that the EPA failed to “support its unconditional registration conclusion” that the herbicides would have “no unreasonable adverse effects on the environment” and refused to allow comments on the decision, hiding it inside a separate registration decision related to state pesticide restrictions. The filing also purports that the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act because it did not consult with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service before publishing the registration. 

The petitioners, including the National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Center for Biological Diversity, and Pesticide Action Network North America, reported that the current registration was “closely related” to the EPA’s earlier dicamba pesticide registration. This petition for review comes before the same body that decided earlier this year to vacate the registration of dicamba over-the-top herbicide products by ruling in favor of at least some of the same plaintiffs. The EPA quickly provided a way for farmers to continue with plans to use the herbicides during the 2020 growing season. 

“We’re in court yet again because for four years, the EPA repeatedly claimed dicamba is safe and for four years, the agency has been dead wrong, resulting in millions of acres of damage,” said Nathan Donley of the Center for Biological Diversity in a Center for Food Safety press release

The EPA re-registered the dicamba-based herbicides for use on dicamba-resistant cotton and soybean crops for the next five years in late October. The registration was modified from the one which was previously vacated by the Ninth Circuit to create more protections to keep the herbicide from spreading to other plants and areas than the intended dicamba-resistant crops. Specifically, it added a requirement for a pH-buffering agent in some instances and certain dates where over-the-top applications are allowed. 

At that point, the Center for Food Safety said that the re-approval was rushed and would cause five more years of damage. It announced plans to file the present suit against the EPA’s action. The parties are asking the court to vacate the current registration and prohibit any use of the already-sold pesticides. 

The petitioners are represented by lawyers with the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity.