EPA backpedals on suspending pesticide rule following lawsuit

EPA backpedals on suspending pesticide rule following lawsuit
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday backtracked on its suspension of a chemical requirement that aimed to help farmworkers handling toxic pesticides.

The EPA announced an intent to publish in the Federal Register new pesticide safety training materials that are required under the rule.

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The policy reverse followed a lawsuit filed by California, Maryland and New York at the end of May that argued that suspending the rule would hurt farm laborers.

An EPA spokesperson said that the agency revised materials under the agency's Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to implement more protections from pesticide exposure incidents for agricultural workers, handlers and their families.

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraIndustry wins big in methane rules rollback Overnight Energy: Watchdog to investigate EPA over Hurricane Harvey | Panel asks GAO to expand probe into sexual harassment in science | States sue over methane rules rollback Some states back plaintiff suing DHS over Haitians' protected status MORE (D) celebrated the EPA's decision.

"EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE has backed down to do what the law requires: implement critical safeguards for agricultural workers. This is an important victory for some of America’s hardest workers and for the Rule of Law,” said Becerra in a statement Friday. “Day in, day out, our families enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables because of our agricultural workers, many of whom are immigrants living in California.”

Becerra joined the other two attorneys general to sue the Trump administration for indefinitely suspending a key requirement in the WPS, which requires employers to give training to workers meant to protect them from pesticide poisoning.

The rule was updated under then-President Obama in 2015 because the administration concluded that enhanced safety training for farmworkers and pesticide handlers would help reduce the amount and severity of pesticide exposure on the job. The Trump administration opted to suspend the rule last December.

In the joint filing, the trio of attorneys general argued that the EPA's decision to delay the requirement was unlawful.

"EPA’s unjustified delay harms the nation’s hundreds of thousands of farmworkers and their families, and is arbitrary and capricious," reads the suit.

An EPA spokesperson at the time said the agency “doesn’t comment on pending litigation."

The EPA did not return a request for comment on their policy's flip.