NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Rule Hopes to Temper Silly Environmental Lawsuits

March 18, 2004

Lawsuits from environmental groups over pesticides divert resources from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that could be spent on reviewing and approving new products, according to Henry Miller, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

The lawsuits, which are tied to a legal technicality in the Endangered Species Act, claim that when the EPA registers or re-registers pesticides, they have failed to comply with the law by not including consultations from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish & Wildlife Service, in spite of an ESA code which doesn't mandate consults. Additionally:

  • The lawsuits are procedural, not substantive -- meaning that no damage or harm from the pesticides has been proven.
  • Pesticides have been beneficial in increasing agricultural productivity, controlling insects, and requiring less land for farming and more efficient production, resulting in cheaper prices for consumers.
  • Environmentalists filed a similar lawsuit last year to prevent bio-farming, which involves using agricultural products to produce pharmaceuticals.
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish & Wildlife Service proposed a rule on January 30 which would eliminate the requirement that the EPA consult with other agencies in reviewing and registering pesticides.

Miller, a former official at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, argues that the FDA was constantly busy responding to annoying and unsubstantiated lawsuits by citizens' groups.

Source: Henry I. Miller, MD., "Stopping the Real Pests," Tech Central Station, February 12, 2004.

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