The Trump administration is appealing a federal court order for the Environmental Protection Agency to ban a pesticide many farmers say would seriously hurt the agricultural industry.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit violated Supreme Court precedent and the law when it ruled that the EPA improperly rejected a petition in 2017 to prohibit use of chlorpyrifos, the Justice Department said in a Monday filing. Activists believe the pesticide causes neurological disorders.
“The important thing here is that courts are not supposed to operate this way,” EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said in a statement. “This opinion nullifies the FIFRA process, violating a congressionally mandated statute. EPA takes science and health issues very seriously, but we must work within the legal process established by Congress.”
Environmentalists cheered the California-based court’s decision. Former President Barack Obama proposed banning the use of the pesticide on food products, but Scott Pruitt reversed course shortly after taking over at the EPA in 2017.
Attorneys argued in Monday’s court filing that the court should have overturned the EPA’s decision and sent it back for reconsideration. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) the court’s finding that there is no safe level of exposure to the pesticide should not have necessitated the EPA ban the substance, lawyers said.
Conservatives have criticized Obama’s EPA for relying mostly on what they call secret science to justify the ban. (RELATED: EPA Forced To Ban Pesticides Based On ‘Secret Science’ It Wants To End)
EPA relied on a single study by the Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University that examined chlorpyrifos levels in umbilical cords. The study’s underlying data is not publicly available. Pruitt sought to revise that problem shortly before resigning in June.
He proposed a rule in April requiring federal officials to make public underlying data of studies used to justify costly regulations. Republicans have been pushing for science transparency rules for years, citing the agency’s attempt to ban chlorpyrifos as a reason why.
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