Court orders new review of endangered species for toxic fungicide

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SAN FRANCISCO — In a major victory for conservationists and wildlife, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit today ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to review the potential damages that a toxic new fungicide poses to endangered species by June 2023.

The EPA approved the fungicide inpyrfluxam in 2020 despite compelling research showing it to be “very highly toxic” to fish, including endangered salmon and rainbow trout, and showing that it poses substantial risks to large birds, including whooping cranes. It is also extremely persistent, remaining in the environment for years after use.

“I am very pleased that the court has given the EPA a firm deadline to fully explore the harm caused by this toxic new pesticide to endangered species,” said Jonathan Evans, legal director for environmental health at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This decision should send a clear message that the EPA can no longer ignore its duty to ensure that new pesticides don’t push endangered wildlife, like salmon, closer to extinction.”

The EPA’s 2020 approval of inpyrfluxam ignored expert advice from the National Academy of Sciences, which recommended the agency develop a new species risk analysis process in endangered which was more informative and protective. The EPA announced a policy for new pesticide approvals in January this year because previous approvals resulted in “insufficient protections” for endangered species.

“The EPA needs to stop approving these toxic pesticides without meaningful consideration of cost and environmental harm,” said Amy van Saun, senior counsel at the Center for Food Safety. “We need our government to stand up to industry pressure, obey the law and protect the environment from dangerous pesticides.”

In April, the EPA released its first-ever comprehensive work plan to address the challenge of protecting endangered species from pesticides. Last month, the agency announced two pilot programs focused on reforming the pesticide approval process to correct violations of the Endangered Species Act.

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