The Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America filed the most comprehensive lawsuit to date against EPA in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

The groups claim that EPA has failed to consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) regarding the impacts of one or more of 381 chemicals on 214 endangered and threatened species in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under ESA section 7(a)(2), EPA is required to consult with one of the Services, depending on the species in question, when it determines that a pesticide may affect a listed species or its critical habitat.

The groups are seeking a court order compelling EPA to start and complete the consultation process for the pesticides and species identified in the lawsuit. They also are seeking a court order prohibiting EPA from allowing uses that may lead to pesticides entering occupied habitat or designated critical habitat of endangered and threatened species until the consultation process has been completed.

EPA and the Services have been subjected to a number of lawsuits in recent years regarding their compliance with pesticide-related ESA obligations. Until now, these lawsuits have been more limited in terms of the chemicals, species and geography covered. Washington Toxics v. EPA was filed in ’02 and involved 54 pesticides and only salmon species in the Northwest. That case still has not been fully resolved and the court has ordered buffers around salmon-supporting waters.

EPA has suggested that it will comply with ESA requirements as the agency completes its 15-year registration review as mandated by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act. However, the activists in the current litigation are saying that timeline is too long and they will ask for a more aggressive compliance schedule.