Pruitt's EPA draws heat on chlorpyrifos | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Pruitt's EPA draws heat on chlorpyrifos

Kristin Schafer's picture
Scott Pruitt EPA

Chlorpyrifos might not quite be a household word yet, but it's getting there. The story of the astonishing decision by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse course on agency plans to pull this child-harming insecticide off the market has captured headlines across the country and around the world.

It could be this is getting so much attention because it was EPA's first major decision under the Trump Administration. Or it could be because the reversal flies so blatantly in the face of strong scientific evidence — just as thousands of scientists prepare to take to the streets in response to the escalating "war on science."

Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean of Global Health and Pediatrics at Mt. Sinai Hospital, said this of Mr. Pruitt's decision:

  I think this is a very unfortunate decision. Not only is it scientifically wrong but it's also morally wrong. And it shows a blantant disregard for a very strong body of science."

Or it could be the attention to the chlorpyrifos story is driven by what it reveals about corporate capture in the new administration. The about-face on a pesticide that had been deemed unsafe by the agency's own scientists marks a clear priorization of short-term profits for one corporation — Dow Chemical — over the health of millions of children across the country.

Timothy Egan, for example, highlights the chlorpyrifos decision in his "Poisons Are Us" opinion piece in the New York Times:

  The election changed everything. . .  From here on out, public health would take a back seat to Dow Chemical.

Pruitt's shameful chlorpyrifos decision deserves to be in the spotlight, and we plan to do all we can to keep it there. We're also fighting back — through the courts, congress, and citizen action — until children and workers across the country are protected from this dangerous insecticide.

Photo: Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Kristin Schafer
Share this post: 


Thomas's picture
Thomas /
<p><strong>Dear PAN:</strong></p> <p><strong>Kindly consider the following for a moment: &nbsp;One approach to Pruitt's recent action/decision on Chlorpyrios would be to recognize it for how it can be legally interpreted. &nbsp;That is that it represents scientifically evidenced child endangerment, child abuse and a physical assault on said children. &nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Bear with me, if you would, for one more moment. &nbsp;It follows that one can seek relief from local, county and state prosecutors to file charges against Mr. Pruitt for the aforementioned crimes. &nbsp;Courts and prosecutors historically don't like to get ahead of societies thinking or the culture even when the law is clear, even so let's examine, for a moment, this approach. &nbsp;When DNA evidence is presented to a court it is accepted as incontrovertible. &nbsp;The same should hold for the evidence regarding the neurological effects of Chlorpyrios. &nbsp;While startling one only needs to find a single sympathetic prosecutor, in all of our fifty states, with the courage to issue (and here is the real leverage) an arrest warrant for Mr. Pruitt and hold him accountable in a court of law.</p> <p>I would respectfully suggest that even the request to prosecutors, or their grand juries, to charge Mr. Pruitt would unnerve and challenge the remarkable arrogance of this administrator. If followed tenaciously I believe that one would, in time, succeed in having him charged. &nbsp;I consider myself a reasonable person who happened to have spent 22 years in Federal Law Enforcement. &nbsp;I saw people charged and heavily fined for leaving car batteries in their yards, and criminally charged for accidentally dumping small amounts of chemical waste (as well they should have been because they were not acting responsibly or safely). &nbsp;When you project our codified legal protections onto what Pruitt is doing his actions clearly fall within the realm of criminality. &nbsp; The authority to change or interpret a regulation does not excuse the necessity to act within the boundaries, to not violate, other criminal statutes, i.e., child endangerment, assault, abuse, etc. &nbsp;</p> <p>I and my wife also worked in the field of domestic abuse and child protection. &nbsp;The rule of law, (where the rubber meets the road), has saved innumerable children from horrid abuse and circumstances. &nbsp;It needs to be applied here as opposed to waiting for years to achieve political relief from these abusive administrators. &nbsp;My wife and I were involved in achieving two amendments to federal law that regard child protection. &nbsp;This is not a naive proposal. &nbsp;It only requires a willing attorney and prosecutor that comprehend the validity of science and the necessity and morality of child protection.&nbsp;</p> <p>Kindly let me know if I can be of any assistance in this regard. &nbsp;I would be very interested in your thoughts to this proposal. &nbsp;</p> <p>Best Wishes,</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thomas Evans</p> <p>Author of: Alpha Land; &nbsp;Bullies, Males and how the angry rule.</p> <p>Ret. Senior Inspector U.S. Customs Service</p> <p></p>
Kristin Schafer's picture
Kristin Schafer /
<p>Thank you Thomas - intriguing ideas!</p>
Kristin Schafer's picture

Kristin Schafer was PAN's Executive Director until early 2022. With training in international policy and social change strategies, Kristin was at PAN for over 25 years. Before taking on the Executive Director role in 2017, she was PAN's program and policy director. She was lead author on several PAN reports, with a particular emphasis on children's health. She continues to serve on the Policy Committee of the Children's Environmental Health Network. Follow @KristinAtPAN