Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced Wednesday his decision not to ban the agricultural use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The bill would ensure EPA regulations are based on the best publicly available science and enable independent scientists to review and validate the EPA's decisions.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Sunday defended the administration's positions on climate change and ending domestic energy policies that he said the Obama administration "just made up".
As a result of Pruitt's decision, children and farmworkers nationwide are endangered, rights advocates and environmental groups charge.
Chlorpyrifos is used as an insecticide against plant pests of numerous crops, including some meant for human consumption.
Environmental groups pointed to recent studies showing even minuscule amounts of chlorpyrifos, sold by Dow Chemical, can interfere with brain development of fetuses, infants and children.
Lobbyists looking to keep the pesticide legal asked that the EPA reject its widely researched findings in favor of allowing chlorpyrifos use.More news: 'Behavior Consistent With a Cover-Up': CA Dem Blasts Nunes, Trump Admin
"We have a law that requires the EPA to ban pesticides that it can not determine are safe, and the EPA has repeatedly said this pesticide is not safe", Patti Goldman, managing attorney at Earthjustice, told the New York Times. The Trump Administration sided with pesticide and farm groups and reversed EPA's earlier decision. Traces have been found in waterways, threatening fish, and regulators say overuse could make targeted insects immune to the pesticide. The chemical was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings but still today is used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples.
However, according to some scientists and the US Department of Agriculture chlorpyrifos was not harmful at exposure levels upheld by the EPA.
In October 2015, EPA proposed to revoke all uses of chlorpyrifos on food.
Following a review of comments on both the November 2015 proposal and the November 2016 notice of data availability, EPA has concluded that, despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved and that further evaluation of the science during the remaining time for completion of registration review is warranted to achieve greater certainty as to whether the potential exists for adverse neurodevelopmental effects to occur from current human exposures to chlorpyrifos. In 2007, Dow was notably banned from doing business in India for five years and fined by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for bribing Indian officials to fast-track permits for pesticides despite health concerns, including chlorpyrifos (which used the brand name "Dursban").
The maker of the pesticide praised Pruitt's decision.