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Trump Administration Seeks Two-Year Delay on Pesticide Assessments Following Industry Request

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Trump Administration Seeks Two-Year Delay on Pesticide Assessments Following Industry Request
Dow CEO Andrew Liveris and President Donald Trump in February.

The Trump administration filed a motion before a federal judge requesting two more years to complete an assessment on the risks of three common pesticides on endangered species.

The pesticides in question—chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon—are three organophosphate insecticides known to harm the vast majority of the nearly 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act, according to an extensive federal study.


Notably, the Associated Press reported, the administration's motion comes after chlorpyrifos-maker Dow Chemical Co. and two other organophosphate manufacturers asked the government to ignore the findings of the aforementioned study.

"It's appallingly clear that the pesticide industry is now essentially running Trump's EPA," said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "This disturbing request shows that [EPA administrator Scott] Pruitt and Trump are more interested in protecting the profits of their corporate buddies than the hundreds of endangered species threatened by these deadly pesticides."

If the request is granted, it would modify a 2014 legal agreement secured by the Center for Biological Diversity that required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess the pesticides' harms by the end of 2017.

According to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity:


"Under the Endangered Species Act, the EPA must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure its actions do not jeopardize endangered species or harm their habitats.

Despite this clear mandate, the EPA has essentially ignored the plight of endangered species injured and killed by pesticides. Only after the Center's 2014 legal victory did the agency agree to comply with this long-standing requirement.

Unless the court approves the new delay request, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries services will use those assessments to develop common-sense measures to reduce the pesticides' harm to endangered species—for example by limiting spraying in their habitat—by the end of the year."

The Associated Press pointed out that this move "is the latest example of the Trump administration seeking to block or delay environmental rules at the behest of the industry."

Dow contributed $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee. President Trump also named Dow CEO Andrew Liveris head of his American Manufacturing Council and received the president's ceremonial pen used to sign the executive order aimed at eliminating regulations that he claims are damaging to the U.S. economy.

In March, according to records obtained by the Associated Press, Pruitt met with Liveris for about 30 minutes at a Houston hotel. Later that month, Pruitt announced that he would no longer pursue a ban on chlorpyrifos from being used on food, ignoring his agency's own review that even small amounts of the pesticide could impact fetus and infant brain development.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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