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Major steps taken to implement the Endangered Species Act

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new method for conducting biological evaluations under the Endangered Species Act to assure that pesticide registration review actions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act 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.

“Responsible pesticide use is an essential tool for managing America’s farmland,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA’s improved methodology will better protect and promote the recovery of endangered species while ensuring pesticide registration review decisions are conducted in a timely, transparent manner and are based on the best available science.”

The Endangered Species Act is a critical tool for ensuring the recovery and protection of the nation’s most vulnerable species and habitats. However, for decades EPA’s approach for assessing pesticides risks to endangered species resulted in costly, time-consuming litigation and delays in pesticide registration decision-making.

EPA’s new “Revised Method for National Level Listed Species Biological Evaluations of Conventional Pesticides” will better protect and promote the recovery of endangered species while ensuring pesticide registration review decisions are conducted in a timely, transparent manner and based on the best available science. With this action, EPA is fulfilling its commitment under the 2018 Farm Bill to ensure that pesticides can continue to be used safely with minimal impacts to threatened and endangered species.

“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,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “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.”

The final Revised Method incorporates high-quality pesticide usage data into the agency’s biological evaluation process for the first time and was informed by input from a wide range of stakeholders, including states, tribes, environmental NGOs, and agricultural stakeholders.

In conjunction with the announcement, EPA is also releasing for public comment draft biological evaluations for the insecticides carbaryl and methomyl which were conducted using the final Revised Method. EPA will accept public comment on the draft biological evaluations for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. After carefully considering public comments, EPA will finalize the biological evaluations. If the agency determines a pesticide may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the agency will consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Services will then issue a biological opinion to determine if the population of a species would be adversely impacted and, if so, propose ways to reduce risks.

To view the pre-publication notice for the draft biological evaluations for carbaryl and methomyl, the final Revised Method document, and learn more about how EPA protects endangered species from pesticides, click here.

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
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