On November 4, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved a settlement agreement between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) regarding the impacts of seven pesticides on the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii), which is listed under the Endangered Species Act. Pursuant to the settlement, the Service is required to consult with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding whether the use of glyphosate, malathion, simazine, pendimethalin, permethrin, methomyl and myclobutanil will harm the species. The Service must issue a draft biological opinion for two of the chemicals within one year; biological opinions for the five remaining chemicals must be completed within two years.
The settlement agreement is the result of a lawsuit brought by CBD in 2011, which originally sought to require consultation for 64 pesticides. Under the terms of the agreement, CBD may bring suit again over the remaining 57 pesticides after two years have passed.
These types of settlement agreements have recently come under scrutiny. For example, Sen. Chuck Grasseley (R-IA) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) have introduced legislation intended to curtail these so-called “closed-door settlements” with environmental groups. For more details regarding these legislative efforts, please see our posts dated June 4, 2013 and March 29, 2013.