Protecting Endangered Species From The Dangerous New Pesticide Cyantraniliprole

Case Overview

Conservation and food safety groups, represented by Earthjustice, have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to protect endangered species from a new, toxic pesticide called cyantraniliprole. EPA risked far-reaching harm to both aquatic and terrestrial species by approving the widespread use of this new pesticide in January 2014 without input from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries services.

EPA authorized widespread uses of the new pesticide in both agricultural and urban areas without measures to protect endangered species despite concluding in its own assessment that cyantraniliprole is “highly or very highly toxic” to scores of endangered species. Based on these findings, the agency’s scientists recommended broad measures to keep cyantraniliprole from reaching sensitive wildlife habitat. While EPA concluded that it should consult federal wildlife biologists for more specific analysis and to develop on-the-ground protections for species, the agency failed to take that step.

The Endangered Species Act requires EPA to consult with federal wildlife biologists on the effects of chemicals applied within the habitat of at-risk wildlife. To help these federal agencies break through years of gridlock, a report issued in 2013 by the National Academy of Sciences outlines a process for EPA to work together with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that pesticide regulation adequately protects imperiled wildlife. In response to those recommendations, EPA announced several reforms last year designed to better protect endangered species. Yet EPA did not incorporate any of these reforms in its process for approving cyantraniliprole.

The lawsuit asks the federal district court in Washington, D.C. to order EPA to consult with federal wildlife biologists on cyantraniliprole’s effects on endangered species and to put in place interim protections necessary to protect wildlife until the consultation is complete. Earthjustice is representing and co-counseling the case with the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, and Defenders of Wildlife.

A Fender's blue butterfly at Baskett Slough NWR.
A Fender's blue butterfly at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge. This endangered species and its habitat are one of dozens threatened by the new pesticide cyantraniliprole. (George Gentry / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Case Updates

Farmer spraying pesticide in paddy field
June 3, 2014 Press Release

Groups Fight to Protect Endangered Species From Dangerous New Pesticide

Conservation groups sue Environmental Protection Agency for approval of pesticide without input from wildlife biologists