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E-M:/ Attack on Pesticide Regulation



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FORUM@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG>
From:         Doris Cellarius <Doris@Cellarius.net>
Subject: Chemical companies are pushing EPA to weaken pesticide safeguards
To:           CONS-EQST-PESTICIDE-FORUM@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG
Precedence: list


Seattle, January 15, 2004 Back to press release list

Conservation Groups File Lawsuit to Stop EPA from Using Insider Chemical
Group to Forge Policy

     Conservation and pesticide watchdog groups today filed a lawsuit to stop
the Environmental Protection Agency from giving illegal special access to a
group of chemical corporations. Documents obtained under the Freedom of
Information Act and other sources reveal that the corporate insider group
has met regularly with EPA officials in secret and has urged EPA to weaken
endangered species protections from pesticides. The lawsuit was filed in
federal district court in Seattle.

     The chemical companies are pushing EPA to weaken pesticide safeguards by
cutting expert biologists in the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA
Fisheries out of consultations determining the effects of pesticides on
wildlife. At the companies' urging, EPA has started a rulemaking to reserve
authority over such evaluations to itself.

     "EPA is letting the pesticide industry have inside influence over the
fate of endangered species poisoned by toxic pesticides," said Patti Goldman
of Earthjustice, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of the conservation and
watchdog groups.

     "Salmon are suffering from dangerous pesticides in our waters here in
Washington," said Erika Schreder of the Washington Toxics Coalition. "We
have a right to be at the table when decisions are being made that affect
the safety of our Northwest waters and the health of our salmon runs."

     Federal law prohibits the government from using and meeting in secret
with such insider groups. Congress has established good government standards
that prevent secret and one-sided advisory bodies of wealthy special
interests. The Federal Advisory Committee Act prohibits the federal
government from obtaining advice from committees comprised of only the
regulated industry. That Act also requires that the meetings of advisory
groups be open to the public.

     "EPA has an open door policy to the biggest chemical companies in
America while excluding the rest of us," said Mike Senatore of Defenders of
Wildlife. "That's not right. In America all voices are supposed to be heard,
not just wealthy interests that make campaign contributions."

     In 2000, EPA established this chemical industry group, known as the
FIFRA Endangered Species Task Force, to develop data disclosing the
locations of endangered species. The task force is comprised of 14
agro-chemical companies. It meets regularly with EPA officials in closed
meetings and has no public-interest representatives. Over the past year, the
chemical industry task force has shifted its efforts away from generating
data to advocating that EPA circumvent the Endangered Species Act for
pesticide uses that harm federally protected species. It has become the
chief proponent of new pesticide regulations that would eliminate expert
oversight over species protections. In early 2003, EPA announced its plan to
issue such regulations, and it plans to propose new rules soon.

     "For years, EPA has flouted its obligation to protect endangered species
from pesticides," said Aaron Colangelo of Natural Resources Defense Council.
"Now that the courts are directing EPA to comply with its duties, the
pesticide industry and the Bush Administration have come up with a new trick
for delaying species protections."

     The lawsuit asks the court to order EPA to commit to bring its actions
into compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Natural Resources
Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife,
Washington Toxics Coalition, and Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to
Pesticides, represented by Earthjustice, filed the lawsuit.

     The complaint and a list of the chemical companies comprising the
illegal advisory committee are available at:
http://www.earthjustice.org/news/display.html?ID=759.

     You can also get more details from our fact sheet on this issue, which
also includes a list of the chemical companies.

Contacts

       Earthjustice
       Patti Goldman
       206-343-7340 ext. 32

       Defenders of Wildlife
       Mike Senatore
       202-682-9400 ext. 123

       Natural Resources Defense Council
       Aaron Colangelo
       202-289-6868

       Center for Biological Diversity
       Peter Galvin
       707-986-7805

       Washington Toxics Coalition
       Erika Schreder
       206-632-1545 ext. 19

       Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides
       Aimee Code
       541-344-5044 ext. 27

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Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com
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