EPA Hosts Public Meeting on the Endangered Species Risk Assessment Process for Biological Evaluations of Pesticides

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On June 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a public meeting to present the agency’s draft revised method for conducting national level threatened and endangered species biological evaluations for pesticides.

The EPA revisions to its review procedures are designed to improve the assessment process by better use of pesticide use data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other sources to improve the accuracy of the assessment of where species may be affected, to use probabilistic methods to help determine if a species may be affected, and to articulate a weight-of-evidence framework to evaluate the likelihood of any impacts on the species. Together, such revisions would make the assessments more precise and realistic based on a more sound scientific basis. This is designed to make the process more transparent and predictable for all stakeholders.  

This meeting follows on the heels of a June 6 meeting of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) interagency working group hosted by EPA at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The interagency working group was established in January 2018 by a memorandum of agreement and aims to improve the ESA consultation process for pesticide registrations. Congress codified the existing working group into law in the 2018 Farm Bill. Participants at the meeting included Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Council on Environmental Quality Chair Mary Neumayr.

“CropLife America appreciates the leadership taken by EPA to address this important issue and we’re hopeful that the collaborative spirit of Thursday’s meeting continues throughout this process. We have long sought an approach to endangered species review of pesticide products that all involved government agencies can agree to. We support a process that protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats, while allowing agriculture and other pesticide use to provide food and protect public health,” said Chris Novak, president and CEO of CLA. “We think EPA’s proposed, draft revisions are an important step toward improving the integration of ESA into pesticide registration decisions and we thank EPA for providing all stakeholders with an opportunity to refine and improve this process.”  

EPA is seeking feedback on the draft revised method through July 1, 2019. To review the draft revised method and provide comments, visit https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2019-0185.

Sarah Macedo