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What They Are Saying: Trump Administration Takes Major Step to Improve Implementation of the Endangered Species Act

03/12/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (March 12, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new method for conducting biological evaluations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to assure that pesticide registration review actions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) do not jeopardize endangered species. The updated method ensures that—when available—the agency will use high-quality historical data that reflects where and how certain pesticides are used. The updated method ensures that—when available—the agency will use high-quality historical data that reflects where and how certain pesticides are used.

Here's what elected officials and stakeholders are saying...

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue: “The required review of crop protection chemicals under the Endangered Species Act is an issue that has frustrated America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers for far too long. Under President Trump’s leadership, we are cutting the red tape to unleash the full potential of American agriculture. I am proud to join forces with my colleagues as we move forward on a protocol to allow the tools farmers need to feed, fuel, and clothe this nation and the world to reach market while also ensuring our environment is protected.”

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt: “The Revised Method is an improved framework for Endangered Species Act pesticide consultations. By incorporating actual pesticide usage data into these assessments, they will be accurate and legally defensible. We look forward to working with the EPA to apply this framework and review public comment on the draft carbaryl and methomyl biological evaluations.”

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross: “As EPA’s finalized method of conducting evaluations demonstrates, the whole-of-government approach to regulatory reform is bearing fruit. Actual use of pesticides is an important factor to consider as we work to protect endangered species. The Department looks forward to working closely with our public and private partners to ensure that the rules are good for both our economy and our environment.”

CEQ Chairman Mary B. Neumayr: “Under President Trump’s leadership, the Administration is committed to supporting agricultural communities and environmental protection. Since 2017, CEQ has worked collaboratively with EPA, DOI, USDA, and DOC to improve the ESA pesticide consultation process and today’s announcement reflects the Federal government’s commitment to a process that promotes timely and effective decision making and advances rural prosperity.”

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS): “In the 2018 Farm Bill, we established an interagency working group to provide recommendations on improving the consultation process required under the Endangered Species Act for pesticide registration. I’m pleased to see that the working group has done its job to provide improved evaluation methods. I support the Administration’s efforts to ensure timely registration review processes that continue to make adequate crop protection tools available for farmers.”

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Mike Conaway (TX-11): “The Endangered Species Act has been used as a weapon against farmers and ranchers for far too long. But today, thanks to President Trump’s leadership, American agriculture is yielding another major victory. This announcement is a direct result of language we secured in the 2018 Farm Bill and delivers on our goal to provide a risk-based, transparent, and predictable pesticide registration process that ensures access to important tools while protecting human health and the environment.”

Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA-04): “Our farmers play a crucial role in conserving and protecting endangered species, and they understand the importance of responsible pesticide use. These new methods to establish a streamlined, effective pesticide registration procedure are yet another example of the Administration implementing Farm Bill reforms that empower our nation’s farmers to continue their conservation efforts while providing safe, high-quality food for the world.”  

Congressman James Comer (KY-01): “I’m glad to see President Trump’s support for America’s farmers and producers through this improved Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation process. The Administration is importantly balancing the need for environmental protections while also ensuring pesticide registration review decisions are timely and sensible so that farmers can have the tools they need. I look forward to the benefits this improved assessment will have on implementing the ESA and ensuring farmers are involved in a more efficient pesticide review process.”

American Farm Bureau: “The American Farm Bureau Federation appreciates the Environmental Protection Agency taking steps to improve the process of assessing whether pesticide use impacts endangered species. Crop treatments, like limited applications of pesticides, help farmers produce healthy, affordable food using fewer resources. EPA’s use of more accurate historical data about pesticide use will ensure endangered species are protected while allowing responsible access to important crop protection tools.”

National Sorghum Producers: “National Sorghum Producers is appreciative of the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service for embracing science-based methodologies that utilize real-world data reflecting how and where pesticides are being used when considering potential impacts on endangered species. This is a significant step forward in the ESA review process of pesticide registrations under FIFRA, and we look forward to working with the agencies as they take a sound approach to these evaluations.”

Agricultural Retailers Association President & CEO Darren Copper: “The EPA’s revised methods for conducting biological evaluations to assess whether registered uses for pesticides may impact endangered species is long overdue. These improved steps will ensure the EPA and other federal agencies rely on real world pesticide use data and implement clearer procedures to better identify potential species at risk. ARA strongly supports the steps being taken by EPA, which is consistent with provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill. This proposal will help ensure timely pesticide registration review decisions and promote the recovery of endangered species.”

American Soybean Association President and soybean grower from Worthington, Minn. Bill Gordon: “It is essential that Endangered Species Act reviews are using the best available science to ensure threatened species are being successfully protected and rehabilitated. If real-world data is available that can help us conduct improved, more realistic reviews, it makes sense to use that data, and EPA should be applauded for this step in the right direction.”

Minor Crop Farmer Alliance Chairman Jim Cranney: “Fruit, vegetable, nut and other specialty crop growers are grateful for the steps the Administration is taking to seek more data and to make science-based decisions when evaluating the potential impacts on our nation’s sensitive species.”

CropLife America CEO Chris Novak: “Protecting threatened and endangered species while ensuring farmers have access to tools to control pests are two objectives that can co-exist using available science. While CropLife America (CLA) is still reviewing EPA’s proposal, we appreciate the agency’s commitment to a process that is efficient, protective of species, and based on the best available science. The best way to balance these objectives is to rely upon real-world data and analyses that reflect where and how pesticides are actually used. Pesticide usage data is an important part of this revised method and represents a major step forward by EPA to use the best scientific and commercial data available. CLA continues to encourage a collaborative process among all the involved governmental agencies to find a long-term, transparent, and timely approach for harmonizing the pesticide registration process and ESA consultations. We hope that this work will result in decisions based on the best available science to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats, while allowing farmers and pest control professionals access to the tools they need grow food and protect public health.”

To view the pre-publication notice for the draft BEs for carbaryl and methomyl, final Revised Method document and learn more about how EPA protects endangered species from pesticides, visit: https://www.epa.gov/endangered-species