Federal Appeals Court Bans ‘Harmful’ Pesticide

By: - August 10, 2018 12:00 am

President Donald Trump gives the pen he used to sign an executive order to Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris. Dow Chemical produces the banned chemical. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press

The Environmental Protection Agency has 60 days to ban the use of a harmful chemical, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The Trump administration risked public health by ignoring scientific consensus on chlorpyrifos, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said in its order. Chlorpyrifos, more commonly marketed as Lorsban, has been shown to cause nervous system issues in adults and can be particularly harmful to children’s brain development. The Trump administration could appeal the split 2-1 court opinion.

Chlorpyrifos was banned from use in household products by the EPA in 2001, but it has continued to be used widely in agriculture on crops ranging from orchards to wheat and soybean fields.

Under the Obama administration, the agency had recommended phasing out the pesticide altogether, but that decision was reversed under Trump’s former EPA director, Scott Pruitt.

While farmworkers, environmental groups and eight states joined in a suit against the EPA last year, other states began trying to ban use of chlorpyrifos within their borders.

In June, Hawaii became the first state to ban the substance starting in 2019, though businesses can apply for extensions.

Similar measures faced resistance elsewhere, however, from many conventional farmers who said they use chlorpyrifos as a last resort when other pesticides don’t work.

Some legislators were hesitant to support measures in Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii and Vermont this year based on fears that the resilient spotted lantern fly might soon invade fields in their state.

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Rebecca Beitsch

Rebecca Beitsch writes about energy and the environment for Stateline. She covered state government in Missouri and North Dakota, writing about politics and policy for NewsRadio KMOX, the Columbia Missourian and the Bismarck Tribune.