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In re Pesticide Action Network North America

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20148
Nos. 14-72794, (9th Cir., 08/10/2015)

The Ninth Circuit ordered EPA to respond to an administrative petition filed nearly nine years ago requesting a ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos. EPA has spent nearly a decade reviewing the petitioner's data and arguments. In response to a previous court order directing EPA to specify a date for issuing a "final ruling" on the petition, the Agency has still not stated with certainty when it intends to take formal action to grant or deny it. Instead, EPA stated that its current plan is to publish, before April 15, 2016, a proposed rule to "revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances," which would, in effect, impose an outright ban on the pesticide. In that update, however, EPA also noted that certain labeling changes could render such action "unnecessary." While the court recognizes the scientific complexity inherent in evaluating the safety of pesticides and the competing interests that the Agency must juggle, EPA's ambiguous plan to possibly issue a proposed rule nearly nine years after receiving the administrative petition is "too little, too late." This delay is egregious and warrants mandamus relief. The court therefore ordered EPA to issue a full and final response to the petition no later than October 31, 2015.