California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a multistate coalition, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) refusal to make a required safety finding for the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is a pesticide used on more than 80 food crops. Infants and children consume a wide variety of these crops and are especially susceptible to the adverse health effects caused by the pesticide, which includes neurodevelopmental delays and other problems. The states’ Ninth Circuit petition concerns EPA’s failure to take action on a proposed rule that would have prevented exposure of the public to chlorpyrifos in food.
“Parents shouldn’t have to question whether everyday fruits and vegetables will poison their children,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The EPA is egregiously sacrificing our children’s health by refusing to make a determination on this dangerous pesticide. Today we’ll hold their feet to the fire and force them to do their job.”
“Chlorpyrifos causes significant harm to our children, farm workers and vulnerable communities,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “California is doing our part to address the harms of this pesticide — it’s time for D.C. to do theirs.”
The coalition asserts that the order denying the states’ objections by Alexandra Dunn, Assistant Administrator of the EPA – also known as the Dunn Order – should be overturned as arbitrary and capricious and unlawful. The petition states the order:
Violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFCDA), which requires that the EPA ensures there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to pesticide chemical residue;
Contains no determination of a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from exposure to residue of the pesticide, as required by the FFDCA;
Disregards EPA’s statutory requirement to publish a safety determination of the pesticide residue for infants and children;
Continues EPA’s years-long pattern of delay in addressing the hazards of chlorpyrifos; and
Departs from EPA’s prior determination that it could not find chlorpyrifos safe.
Attorney General Becerra called on the EPA to issue safety findings on the pesticide in June 2017. In March of the following year, the Ninth Circuit granted Attorney General Becerra’s motion to intervene in another lawsuit after the EPA reversed course on a rule that would revoke all residue levels of chlorpyrifos in food, and issued an order that left in effect the existing level without making a required finding on the pesticide’s safety.