Monday July 24, 2023

Environmental Protection Agency

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft Herbicide Strategy for public comment, a major milestone in the Agency’s work to protect federally endangered and threatened (listed) species from conventional agricultural herbicides. The Strategy describes proposed early mitigations for more than 900 listed species and designated critical habitats to reduce potential impacts from the agricultural use of these herbicides while helping to ensure the continued availability of these important pesticide tools.

“Ensuring safe use of herbicides is an important part of EPA’s mission to protect the environment,” said Deputy Assistant Administrator for Pesticide Programs for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Jake Li. “This strategy reflects one of our biggest steps to support farmers and other herbicide users with tools for managing weeds, while accelerating EPA’s ability to protect many endangered species that live near agricultural areas.”

The Strategy released today is part of EPA’s ongoing efforts to develop a multichemical, multispecies approach to meeting its obligations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). EPA’s traditional chemical-by-chemical, species-by-species approach to meeting these obligations is slow and costly.  As a result, EPA has completed its ESA obligations for less than 5% of its actions, creating legal vulnerabilities for the Agency, increased litigation, and uncertainty for farmers and other pesticide users about their continued ability to use many pesticides. The Strategy — which is primarily designed to provide early mitigations that minimize impacts to over 900 listed species — is one of EPA’s most significant proposals to help overcome these challenges.

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