CBD Lawsuit Challenges Service’s Failure to Prevent Toxic Pesticides from Harming Endangered Species

Nossaman LLP

On February 1, 2024, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed an amended complaint (Complaint) in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, alleging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) failed to timely analyze the harmful effects of six pesticides on species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and their habitats. The lawsuit stems from the Service’s failure to issue biological opinions to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to that agency’s request for formal ESA section 7 consultation with the Service over the EPA’s 2017 and 2021 authorizations of the pesticides chlorpyrifos, diazinon, carbaryl, methomyl, atrazine, and simazine (Pesticides). 

The Complaint notes that, according to the EPA’s own analyses, the Pesticides are likely to have adverse effects on an overwhelming number of ESA-listed species and amount of designated critical habitat. For example, the Complaint notes that chlorpyrifos was anticipated by EPA to affect up to 97% of ESA-listed species and 97% of designated critical habitat.

The Service’s delay in completing the biological opinions, according to CBD, prevents the EPA from implementing mitigation measures to ensure continued registration of the Pesticides will not jeopardize listed species or destroy or adversely modify critical habitat.

CBD seeks a court order compelling the Service to complete the biological opinions within six months of the order.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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