January 30, 2001
The Washington Toxics Coalition and a number of other public interest groups filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (WTC v. EPA) alleging EPA had failed to assess the potential of certain pesticides to harm federally listed endangered and threatened species, and to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on whether those pesticides posed jeopardy to 26 federally listed endangered and threatened Pacific salmon and steelhead.
Under the Endangered Species Act, EPA must ensure that its registration of pesticides is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of
species listed as endangered and threatened, or to adversely modify habitat critical to those species' survival. In addition, the Agency must consult, as appropriate, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or NMFS if a pesticide's use may affect listed species or designated critical habitat for a listed species.
July 2, 2002
The court ordered EPA to review pesticides containing any of 55 active ingredients, for their potential effects on these listed species and to consult with NMFS as appropriate.
January 22, 2004
The court issued an Order granting injunctive relief. The Order established interim buffer zones adjacent to identified salmon supporting waters (not all water bodies). The buffers were 60 ft for ground applications and 300 ft for aerial applications.
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EPA was responsible for making “effects determinations” for each of the individual pesticides in each of the various geographical regions in relationship to specific fish species. An effects determination is EPA’s conclusion regarding the potential effects a pesticide may have to a listed species, after a thorough ecological risk assessment is conducted. An effects determination may conclude that the pesticide’s use will have "no effect" on a listed species, "may affect but is not likely to adversely affect" a listed species, or is "likely to adversely affect" a listed species.
Buffers were to remain in effect for each of the individual pesticides until EPA: (1) Made a "no effect determination", or (2) determined that the use "may affect but is not likely to adversely affect" a listed species, or is "likely to adversely affect" a listed species, and then completed the required consultation process with NMFS. The consultation process is considered complete, when NMFS issues a final Biological Opinion.
At this time, all required Biological Opinions have been issued, except for eight remaining pesticides (1,3-D, Bromoxynil, Diflubenzuron, Fenbutatin-oxide, Lindane, Prometryn, Propargite, Racemic metholachlor).