Environmental groups have won another lawsuit. A few years back, a group in Seattle filed a lawsuit against EPA for not consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA regarding the impacts of pesticides on an endangered species. The Endangered Species Act required any federal agency that has a program that might impact an endangered species to consult and mitigation that impact. EPA, the agency that issues pesticide registrations had not done so, so the Judge ruled for the environmental group. The agency then determined whether there was any impact from the many pesticides in the suit on the endangered species and limited the use of those that did.
Other environmental groups took note of the victory and filed these types of suits nationally. The California Red Legged Frog is one such candidate. Frogs can be particularly susceptable to pesticides because they absorb oxygen through their skin to some degree. As such, chemicals can easily penetrate their bodies. In addition, their eggs do not have any type of shell and again exposure can be an issue. A judge recently ruled in favor of that group as well.
There are two aquatic herbicides on the list of products the environmental group sued to prevent the use of until consultation happens. It should be noted that this list is a bit of a shotgun approach to most pesticides that are applied to the land around streams. It should also be noted that their case does not claim the products are a threat to the species, they claim that EPA never did the consultation hence violated the ESA. 24D and Triclopyr are the products that may be impacted in aquatics.
There should be minimal concerns with these aquatic herbicides as unlike terrestrial products, they already go through testing for amphibians and would not have aquatic registrations if there was a problem. There may however be some short term impacts on the use of these while they go through consultation. We are looking at this closely and will advise clients accordingly.
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