From: Center for Biological Diversity
Published July 2, 2009 10:38 AM

Pesticide Victory: Proposal to Restrict Toxic Pesticides in Bay Area Endangered Species Habitat

San Francisco- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday proposed to formally evaluate the harmful effects of 74 pesticides on 11 endangered and threatened species in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next five years, and to impose interim restrictions on use of these pesticides in and near endangered species habitats. The proposal stems from a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued EPA in 2007 for violating the Endangered Species Act by allowing the use of toxic pesticides in Bay Area endangered species habitats without determining whether the chemicals jeopardize those species' existence.

"Tens of millions of pounds of toxic and poisonous chemicals, known to be deadly to endangered species and harmful to human health, including proven carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, are applied in the Bay Area each year, and many of those find their way through runoff or drift into our soil, creeks and rivers, San Francisco Bay, and sensitive wildlife habitats," said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center. "The toxic stew of pesticides in the Bay-Delta has played a major role in the collapse of native fish populations, and pesticides are a leading cause of the loss of native amphibians. This agreement is a positive step for protection of some of the Bay Area's most endangered wildlife from pesticides."  

The 11 San Francisco Bay-area endangered species are the Alameda whipsnake, bay checkerspot butterfly, California clapper rail, California freshwater shrimp, California tiger salamander, delta smelt, salt marsh harvest mouse, San Francisco garter snake, San Joaquin kit fox, tidewater goby, and valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Similar protections were obtained by the Center for the California red-legged frog under a 2006 settlement that prohibited use of 66 pesticides in and adjacent to frog habitats statewide. The EPA is required under the Endangered Species Act to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over registration, re-registration and approved uses of pesticides that may endanger listed species or adversely affect their designated critical habitat. The consultation is designed to ensure that EPA avoids authorizing pesticide uses that jeopardize the existence of endangered species. The EPA has consistently failed to evaluate or adequately regulate pesticides harmful to endangered species.

The EPA Wednesday published a proposed settlement agreement with the Center and is taking public comment on a stipulated injunction that would establish a series of deadlines for it to conduct formal consultations with the Service and make "effects determinations'' on 74 pesticides that may affect 11 Bay Area species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The injunction would set aside the EPA's authorization of use for each of the 74 pesticides in and near endangered species habitats within eight Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma) until formal consultation is completed. The consultations should result in cancellation of some pesticide uses and permanent use restrictions for harmful pesticides. The EPA will make the effects determinations beginning October 20, 2009 and ending June 30, 2014.

The settlement includes interim pesticide-use restrictions in habitat for the 11 Bay Area species to reduce the potential exposure of these species to harmful pesticides during the consultation period and Fish and Wildlife Service assessments of pesticide impacts.

  Numerous studies have linked pesticides with developmental, neurological, and reproductive damage to amphibians; studies by Dr. Tyrone Hayes at the University of California have strengthened the case for banning atrazine, a potent chemical that is the most common contaminant of ground, surface, and drinking water nationwide and an endocrine disruptor that "assaults male sexual development," interfering with reproduction. Atrazine has also been linked to disease in humans.

The lawsuit, report on pesticide impacts to Bay Area species, maps of pesticide use, and information about the listed species are on the Center's pesticides Web page.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with 220,000 members and online activists dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild places.

Contact Info: Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185

Website : Center for Biological Diversity

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