The Trump administration is pushing for a two-year delay of an upcoming deadline to determine whether several widely used pesticides are harmful to the environment.
Last week, Dow Chemical Co. and two other pesticide makers asked the the government to set aside (ignore) research by federal scientists that show the family of pesticides, organophosphates, are harmful to 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species.
This week, the Trump administration filed a motion with a federal judge requesting two more years to assess the risks of three organophosphates – chlorpyrifos, malathion and diazinon – on endangered species.
This is a similar situation to what occurred in March of this year when EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced he would reverse an Obama-era effort to bar the use of Dow’s chlorpyrifos pesticide on food, after Pruitt met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris at a Houston hotel. Pruitt’s decision was in direct contradiction to previous reviews by the EPA that even a small amount of chlorpyrifos could impact fetus and infant brain development.
Many are not surprised. The CEO of Dow is a close advisor to Trump and heads a White House manufacturing working group. Dow (the maker of chlorpyrifos) also wrote a $1 million check to help fund Trump’s inauguration.
Over the past several years, federal scientists have compiled a massive amount of data exceeding 10,000 pages showing that these three pesticides pose a risk to nearly every endangered species they studied. This data was set to be used to create new regulations for pesticide use. Yet, the companies manufacturing the pesticides claim these findings are “flawed.”
As Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity stated:
“It’s appallingly clear that the pesticide industry is now essentially running Trump’s EPA. This disturbing request shows that [EPA administrator Scott] Pruitt and Trump are more interested in protecting the profits of their corporate buddies than the hundreds of endangered species threatened by these deadly pesticides.”
If the motion is granted, it would modify a 2014 legal agreement secured by the Center for Biological Diversity that required the EPA to assess the pesticides’ risks by the end of 2017.
Organophosphorus gas was originally developed as a chemical weapon in Nazi Germany, yet now we use a pesticide derived from it, chlorpyrifos, to spray crops. It is among the most widely used pesticide in the United States.