Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made good on a promise to fully comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by establishing a comprehensive, multi-agency review process to ensure that pest and rodent control products approved by the EPA do not jeopardize threatened and endangered species.

These brand new, proposed regulations, http://endangered.fws.gov/consultations/pesticides, amend ESA to formalize and streamline the consultation process for making EPA's “effect/no effect” determinations on chemicals between EPA, the National Forestry Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service, commonly known as “the services.”

California Plant Health Association (CPHA) and other associations have provided comments to the initial draft of proposed regulations and pledged their support to have agriculture speak up and support the final regulations and counteract an expected orchestrated attach from environmental groups.

All it takes is a few clicks from www.cpha.net to let Washington know that agriculture supports the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s new, proposed review-process regulations to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It is essential that supporting comments be sent to the federal government to maintain availability of important pest management products.

Trying to sabotage

Environmental groups are already trying to sabotage the proposed rule, because it would circumvent the possibility of bureaucratic-based lawsuits, like Washington Toxics. The ability to register, sell and use proven and effective pesticide products has been greatly impacted by activist lawsuits based on EPA's failure to fully comply with ESA.

In order to get this rule adopted, the government needs to know there is a lot of support from citizens in agriculture. The easiest way to show support is to go to www.cpha.net, click on “HAVE YOUR SAY ON ESA,” and follow the steps there to automatically send in a letter of support. Individual letters and personal responses mailed to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Services also will be valuable. EPA needs thousands of responses to make sure this rule gets adopted. This will help agriculture, foresters, golf courses, lawn care professionals, and all other pesticide users.

The ESA was passed in 1973 to “provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend may be conserved, and to provide a program for the conservation of these species.” The act prohibits the “taking” of an endangered species, a protection that extends to the surrounding habitat of a species, and is not limited to killing a species.

In California alone, there are over 320 listed or candidate species. Endangered species listings impact agriculture by placing restrictions on how certain natural resources, like water supplies, are utilized so that the impacted species are not affected. Agricultural production techniques may be impacted if it would affect the habitat of a species. Based on recent legal actions taken by activists against EPA, vital crop protection products could be restricted/prohibited if they “may affect” a species habitat.

The EPA has specific responsibilities for the review of pesticide products and their potential impact on endangered species. Through ESA, agencies such as EPA are required to consult with either the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, or the National Marine Fisheries Service when they take an action that “may affect” a species. An example of an action might be the registration or re-registration of a crop protection product. The decision of when the consultation process should take place has traditionally been done between agencies through an informal process. The new proposed regulations would formalize and streamline this process.