Eleven state attorneys general are pushing back against an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal they say would weaken the process for determining whether pesticides are harmful to endangered species.
The comments submitted by the Democratic attorneys general come the same week as a new rule from the Department of the Interior that would dramatically roll back the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
In their comments submitted Thursday, the attorneys general warn that the EPA’s proposal runs counter to the agency’s policy of “institutionalized caution" and circumvents consultation with other agencies charged with overseeing the protection of endangered species.
“EPA’s draft method is antithetical to the plain language and purpose of the ESA,” the attorneys general wrote. “These ill-advised changes to the established method increase risks to threatened and endangered plants and animals.”
Under current practice, the EPA must perform a biological evaluation to determine whether a pesticide will harm a protected species before the chemical is approved for use.
The states outline a number of ways the proposal limits the current review process, from what sort of data can be used in its analysis to restricting the area of pesticide drift that EPA would consider.
Also of concern is how it limits review of pesticide impacts on some species.
“The Draft Method would exclude from the biological evaluation process species on the brink of extinction, in direct contravention of the ESA’s fundamental purpose to prevent species from going extinct,” the attorneys general wrote.
The EPA did not immediately respond to request for comment.
The comments were submitted on behalf of California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.