Court upholds US West Coast pesticide ban in salmon habitat

Since 2001 environmental and fisher groups have been before the courts in the US seeking a ban on use of certain organophosphate pesticides, chlorpyrifos, malathion, and diazinon, in areas where they might imperil endangered salmon. This week, a US Federal Court judge ruled in favour of the environmental groups and against a pesticide industry coalition led by Dow AgroSciences, LLC.

As a result, and subject to any appeal, the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has been dragging its feet on the issue, will be required to prohibit ground application of these chemicals within 500 feet and aerial application within 1,000 feet of salmon habitat in four West Coast states.

The National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a US federal government agency, filed more than 20,000 pages of evidence in the case. The judge’s decision, a 32 page summary, can be found at http://media.oregonlive.com/environment_impact/other/SalmonRuling.pdf

While this decision was based on the adequacy of the technical assessment carried out by NMFS, there is little doubt that many activists will view it as a victory for the environment in general, and endangered species in particular, over the pesticide industry. Victories often serve to embolden activist environmentalists.

A brief summary of the decision can be found at http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/10/federal_judge_backs_rules_that.html

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