What is in this article?:
- California judge dismisses Endangered Species Act 'Mega' lawsuit
- Farmers faced with major restrictions
- Next chapter
• In granting a motion to dismiss the groups’ “Mega” lawsuit, Judge Joseph C. Spero said the plaintiffs — the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network North America — had not alleged specific government actions sufficient for the lawsuit to proceed.
Farmers faced with major restrictions
“Many farmers were faced with the possibility of major restrictions on previously approved crop protection products,” NCGA President Pam Johnson said. “This offers reassurance to America's farmers that they are free to use products which have been deemed safe by the EPA.”
The suit, which was filed in January 2011, specifically alleged that the agency failed to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service on hundreds of pesticide registrations potentially affecting hundreds of species.
The lawsuit requested the court apply “appropriate restrictions on the use of pesticides where they may affect endangered and threatened species and critical habitats” until consultations had been completed and the product registrations were in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
If successful, these "appropriate restrictions" could have resulted in the imposition of buffers zones and other product use restrictions that had the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of land available to agriculture, while doing little to protect threatened species and their habitat, according to Johnson. One of the products that could have been affected was atrazine, a major corn herbicide.
Vroom said environmental groups such as PANNA and the Center for Biological Diversity have been challenging crop protection product registrations based on alleged Endangered Species Act violations for more than a decade.
“Other similar lawsuits are still pending and threatening to limit U.S. agricultural competitiveness by taking away reliable tools that benefit farmers with no demonstrated, commensurate harm to endangered species,” said Joshua Saltzman, assistant general counsel for CLA. “We are hopeful that the dismissal of the 'Mega' suit will begin to move these important discussions out of the courtroom and into a more collegial and collaborative venue.”
CLA was granted limited intervenor status in the lawsuit in June 2011. CLA’s motion to dismiss claimed that plaintiffs’ complaint did not provide enough specificity regarding what actions EPA did or did not take, triggering the need for ESA consultations.
The motion to dismiss also argued that the complaint was submitted in the wrong court and outside the statutory deadline established for challenging a pesticide registration decision under FIFRA.
Vroom said the dismissal provides an opportunity to renew discussions on the role of modern farming technologies in endangered species protection.