District court dismisses multiple claims in ESA “mega” suit

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CropLife America (CLA) is pleased that U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero dismissed the vast majority of the plaintiffs’ claims in their third attempt at a complaint in the case Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), known as the Endangered Species Act (ESA) ‘Mega’ suit. Judge Spero dismissed in their entirety the plaintiffs’ first two complaints in 2012 and 2013, respectively, each time allowing the plaintiffs to refile the complaint. In his August 2013 order, Judge Spero dismissed most of the plaintiffs’ claims, but again has allowed the plaintiffs to refile the complaint on narrow issues. 

“The ‘Mega’ suit represents a drain on government resources while doing nothing to protect wildlife. We are pleased that Judge Spero recognized many of the failings in plaintiffs’ amended complaints, but it is unfortunate that the EPA must continue to devote its time and energy to this litigation,” said Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CLA. “The crop protection products challenged in this lawsuit are a vital part of modern agriculture.”

The plaintiffs originally sought to restrict the use of valuable crop protection and public health products for American farmers and consumers by alleging that the existing and long-standing registration of more than 380 chemicals may negatively impact 214 species in 49 states. If the court had agreed to the full demands of the plaintiffs, agriculture and public health protection in the U.S. would have been drastically and negatively altered by attempts to impede pesticide registrations established under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Thanks to the efforts of the U.S. government, CLA and other industry allies, 63 of the 74 remaining claims in the plaintiffs’ third attempt at a complaint were knocked out.

“It is disappointing that the EPA must still be involved in litigation surrounding the intersection between ESA and FIFRA,” said Rachel Lattimore, CLA’s senior vice president and general counsel. “A solution and improvement on the registration process will be best found through a collaborative process involving all government bodies and stakeholders, not in the courtroom.”

On April 22, 2014, CLA participated in a stakeholder forum addressing ESA consultations for pesticides, organized by government agencies in a response to a report from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) calling for a collaborative approach. NAS determined that the involved government agencies should work together more closely and use a common approach in evaluating potential pesticide risks to threatened and endangered species, and advocated for a streamlined approach to risk assessment to avoid duplicative government efforts. Similarly, a 2013 report commissioned by CLA and prepared by Summit Consulting estimated that duplicative regulations on crop protection products could cost taxpayers an additional $474 million over the next 10 years.

For more information on the crop protection industry and endangered species protection, visit http://www.croplifeamerica.org/pesticide-issues/endangered-species.

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