NRDC v. E. Scott Pruitt et al. (Neonic Pesticides)

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The endangered black-capped vireo, which is at risk from neonic pesticides

Credit: Alan Schmierer/Flickr

In the past 25 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved thousands of neonicotinoid, or neonic, pesticides, a class of widely applied, neurotoxic insecticides. A massive body of evidence shows that neonics are a leading cause of bee die-offs seen around the world in recent decades, and research increasingly implicates neonics in bird declines and the collapse of aquatic ecosystems. They are disastrous for nearly all wildlife. But threatened and endangered species, which typically suffer from a number of existential threats, often face the greatest consequences from the use of neonics and other pesticides

In approving neonic pesticides, the EPA has not complied with the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, the agency was required to consult with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service before it approved these toxic pesticides to evaluate their impact on threatened and endangered species and their habitats. The EPA has never complied.

In response, on October 2, 2017, NRDC filed a lawsuit challenging the registrations of dozens of products containing one of three wildlife-harming neonic pesticides—acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid—with the aim of forcing the agency to evaluate the impacts that pesticides have on imperiled species.

The EPA and the pesticide industry attempted to dismiss the lawsuit, but on September 25, 2019, a federal court denied the motion, allowing the case to move forward. In January 2021, we entered into a settlement with the EPA that requires the agency to initiate consultation on the effects of imidacloprid—one of the most commonly used neonics nationwide—by June 30, 2022. 

On March 7, 2022, the EPA and NRDC settled NRDC’s remaining claims related to acetamiprid and dinotefuran. In a huge victory for imperiled pollinators and other wildlife, the EPA is required to evaluate the effects of these neonics on endangered and threatened species by October 2024. If the EPA determines that these insecticides are likely to harm endangered or threatened species, the settlement requires the EPA to begin the formal consultation process required under the Endangered Species Act. That process should result in significant restrictions on use of these products to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

Urge the EPA to ban neonics—and save our pollinators and the future of our food supply!

Bees are dying at an alarming rate—and neonics are a main culprit. As bees collapse, we could see rising food costs and reduced access to healthy foods. And there’s growing evidence that these toxic pesticides are harmful to human health.

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