The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week released a workplan to address its obligations to protect both endangered species and register pesticides. The plan identifies as the agency’s highest priority those evaluations that are required to meet court-ordered deadlines of more than 50 pesticide active ingredients, including neonicotinoids.
“Completing this work will take EPA past 2040, yet the work represents less than 5% of all the (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) decisions in the next decade for which ESA obligations exist,” EPA’s press release said. “This is an unsustainable and legally tenuous situation, in which EPA’s schedule for meeting its ESA obligations has historically been determined through the courts,” the agency said. “The work-plan must provide a path for the agency to meet those obligations on its own, thus protecting endangered species while supporting responsible pesticide use.”
The next priority will be new registrations for conventional pesticide active ingredients following the agency’s announcement earlier this year that it would not register new active ingredients without first assessing their impacts on endangered species. The plan also calls out the Pesticide Program’s low staffing levels (603 in 2021 compared to 808 in 2005) as compounding the extent of the backlog.
The National Potato Council is currently in the process of reviewing the workplan along with others in the agricultural community and will be providing suggestions to EPA to assist with the plan.