For immediate release: August 7, 2019
California must move forward with a statewide ban without further delay
Sacramento, CA – A lawsuit filed today in federal court is challenging the US EPA’s continued failure to take action on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, linked to permanent brain damage in young children. Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of numerous labor, health and environmental organizations, following the EPA’s July announcement that it would not ban the neurotoxic chemical, in defiance of its own scientists who found the chemical unsafe for use on food crops in any amount. Continued federal inaction has compelled states to act on their own to protect their residents: In California, the Newsom Administration pledged in May to cancel the registration which would ban all uses in the state. The legislatures in New York and Hawaii have both passed statewide bans. Until bans are enacted, communities continue to be at risk.
“The decision by the US EPA to continue to allow chlorpyrifos to be used on food crops has the greatest impact on California’s predominantly Latinx farmworker communities,” said Sarait Martinez, organizing director of the statewide coalition Californians for Pesticide Reform. “This decision is both reprehensible and entirely expected, given the Trump Administration’s assault on environmental regulation and on immigrants and people of color in this country.”
For a chemical known to cause irreversible brain harm in tiny amounts, California uses an alarming amount of chlorpyrifos – almost a million pounds a year, with use heavily concentrated in the San Joaquin Valley. Given the overwhelming and growing body of scientific evidence of the harm caused by chlorpyrifos, the US EPA’s failure to ban it has left California no choice but to act to curb use in the state with the nation’s highest use. Last November, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation announced new mitigation measures aimed at restricting use. And in May, the Newsom Administration announced a plan for cancellation proceedings in California, along with a commitment of $5.7 million to study safe and feasible alternatives. The cancellation process however to date has not been initiated and once initiated is expected to take up to two years to complete.
“Chlorpyrifos has been the scourge of San Joaquin Valley communities for far too long, robbing little children of their health and potential before they’re even born,” said Community Organizer Byanka Santoyo with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, based in Kern County where 20% of the state’s chlorpyrifos is used. “Each time this chemical is used, more children are needlessly endangered and more families are left to face devastating, lifelong consequences. The cancellation of chlorpyrifos can’t happen soon enough. Governor Newsom if you’re listening: please hurry, our children are suffering.”
Californians for Pesticide Reform is a diverse, statewide coalition of over 190 member groups working to strengthen pesticide policies in California to protect public health and the environment. Member groups include public and children’s health advocates, clean air and water groups, health practitioners, environmental justice groups, labor, education, farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates from across the state.