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Endangered Species Case - Washington Toxics Coalition v. EPA

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Under the Endangered Species Act, EPA must ensure that its registration of a pesticide will not result in likely jeopardy to the continued existence of federally listed threatened or endangered species or destroy or adversely modify their designated critical habitat. In addition the Agency must consult, as appropriate, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) if a pesticide's use may affect listed species or designated critical habitat.

This Web page provides information on the Washington Toxics Coalition v. EPA case, related to protection of Pacific salmon and steelhead, and links to the biological opinions issued by the NMFS and EPA’s responses.

Background on this court case

On February 17, 2004, EPA announced the availability of the January 22, 2004, ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in the case of Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) v. EPA in a Federal Register notice. The Court established buffer zones around certain water bodies in California, Oregon, and Washington where the court ordered that specific pesticides could not be used. Generally, for ground pesticide applications, the court order establishes a 20-yard buffer zone; for aerial pesticide applications, the court order establishes a 100-yard buffer zone adjacent to salmon-supporting waters. These buffers are in effect until EPA completes its consultation obligations including finding that a pesticide has no effect on the species, receipt of a biological opinion from NMFS, or a finding by EPA that the pesticide is not likely to adversely affect the species with no affirmative rejection of that finding by NMFS.

Chief Judge Coughenour issued this order in response to the WTC's July 16, 2003, motion for injunctive relief to establish buffer zones as an interim measure to reduce the likelihood of jeopardy to 26 species of salmon and steelhead.

The Agency met its December 1, 2004, deadline to complete the review of the 55 pesticides as ordered by the court on July 2, 2002.  For 37 pesticides, EPA determined there may be effects to one or more of the listed Pacific salmon or steelhead and therefore initiated consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Links to the Federal Register Notices and Court Orders:

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