Federal Interagency Working Group Reconvened to Improve Protections for Endangered Species and Enhance Transparency
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WASHINGTON (Nov. 3, 2021) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, and Department of the Interior are reaffirming their commitment to working together and with stakeholders to protect endangered species, provide effective pest control tools, and regulate pesticide use in a fair, transparent, and predictable manner.
Last month, all five agencies met as part of the Interagency Working Group (IWG) created under the 2018 Farm Bill to discuss improvements to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) section 7 consultation process for pesticide registration and registration review. The group’s first meeting under the Biden-Harris Administration resulted in specific commitments to improve the pesticide consultation process for endangered species and engaging stakeholders, including by capitalizing on the strong interest among stakeholders for a workable process.
“Protecting endangered species and their habitats is a priority for EPA and vitally important to restoring the balance of our country’s ecosystem,” said Ya-Wei (Jake) Li, EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pesticide Programs. “Reconvening the IWG with a focus on interagency collaboration, open and honest stakeholder engagement, and transparency is a critical step forward to meet our ESA obligations in a way that’s practical and protective.”
“This coordinated effort to protect our endangered species and our ecosystems lays the groundwork to avoid and minimize the impacts of pesticides,” said Stephenne Harding, CEQ Senior Director for Lands. “By working across the federal government and engaging stakeholders early in the process, we can better protect wildlife from extinction and reduce impacts on local communities, all while advancing environmental justice and improving sustainability.”
“USDA welcomes the collaboration and collective communication of the ESA-FIRFA Interagency workgroup,” said Gloria Montaño Greene, Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “We appreciate the engagement across the federal family and the opportunity to ensure that the knowledge and impact on agricultural communities are part of the discussion.”
“NOAA Fisheries supports the efforts of the ESA-FIFRA Interagency Workgroup as a valuable forum for collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Department of Agriculture,” said Janet Coit, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Assistant Administrator. “We look forward to working with our sister agencies, states, and stakeholders to support actions that avoid and minimize the impacts of pesticides to threatened and endangered species and their habitats.”
“The Department of the Interior looks forward to these constructive meetings and working in this collaborative, transparent way with our sister agencies," said Martha Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director.
Overall, the IWG is optimistic about its ability to collaborate on improvements that the Biden-Harris Administration can implement. Its actions focused on improving processes that will contribute to tangible benefits for species conservation and for stakeholders. The IWG is intent to adopt improvements expeditiously and that endure across administrations. To guide its future work, the IWG has identified the following initial priorities and approaches:
To promote transparency, the meeting agenda and participants list are provided below.
Effective endangered species protection cannot be accomplished solely by federal agencies. It also requires open and continuous engagement with stakeholders on practical solutions to harmonizing species conservation with pesticide use. To that end, the IWG plans to hold its first stakeholder listening session in early 2022 and will provide details on the proposed session before the end of 2021.
Background – IWG Meeting Agenda and Participants List
October 15, 2021. Meeting held virtually.