Scientists warned that these pesticides could contribute to hundreds of extinctions. Then Bernhardt helped silence them.
After years of research, scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late 2017 were finishing up a study into how widely used pesticides might threaten endangered species, such as California's kit fox or Florida's seaside sparrow. One of their conclusions was particularly stark: Two pesticides, chlorpyrifos and malathion, “jeopardized the continued existence” of more than 1,200 endangered plants and animals. This would be info worth sharing, right? But according to documents obtained by the New York Times, high-level staff at the U.S. Department of the Interior, including current acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, blocked the report’s release and moved swiftly to narrow the way the agency evaluates pesticide risks. Unsurprisingly, chemical giants Corteva (née: Dow) and FMC Corporation had lobbied extensively for such changes to avoid tighter restrictions on their most profitable products. And it seems the man nominated to be the country's next Interior secretary was more than happy to oblige.