By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
On March 10, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and a supporting memorandum of law (Memorandum) in Anderson v. McCarthy, Case No. 3:16-cv-00068 (N.D. Cal. filed Jan. 6, 2016). In support of its motion, EPA states that the District Court lacks jurisdiction because three of the four claims stated in the complaint “seek review of a guidance document that does not constitute ‘final agency action’ reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act [APA] or the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act [FIFRA],” and that the remaining claim “which asserts a failure to regulate under and enforce [FIFRA], fails because Plaintiffs have not identified a clearly imposed duty on the part of EPA to take some discrete action to regulate under or enforce the Act.”
The Complaint was filed by a coalition of U.S. beekeepers, farmers, and affiliated non-government organizations (Petitioners) who requested that the District Court provide declaratory relief stating that seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides are not eligible for the “treated article” exemption under FIFRA. Petitioners argue, in part, that the following language from EPA’s 2013 Inspection Guidance (Guidance) provides a new interpretation of the scope of the “treated article”:
Inspectors may also take into account any locations of treated seed planting when identifying locations of potential pesticide sources. Note: Treated seed (and any resulting dust-off from treated seed) may be exempted from registration under FIFRA as a treated article and as such its planting is not considered a “pesticide use.” However, if the inspector suspects or has reason to believe a treated seed is subject to registration (i.e., the seed is not in compliance with the treated article exemption), plantings of that treated seed may nonetheless be investigated.
The Complaint argues that this Guidance improperly expanded the scope of the treated article exemption and was in effect an unlawful rule issued without prior notice and comment. The Complaint seeks an order from the District Court declaring, in part, that “unregistered seeds do not fit within the ‘treated article’ exemption from pesticide regulation in 40 CFR § 152.25(a) and must be regulated as pesticidal products under FIFRA.”
With regard to the scope of the treated article exemption, EPA in its Memorandum states that the language from the Guidance, which is for the use of inspectors and not the general public, is:
[A] far cry from prescribing the law or policy as to exemption of treated seed as a treated article under 40 C.F.R. § 152.25(a), as they in no way implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy. Instead, this language in the Inspection Guidance is but one recommendation to inspectors who are investigating all possible sources of pesticides, including treated seed.
EPA further argues that the “note” in its Guidance is “nothing more than the unremarkable reiteration of EPA’s longstanding view of the treated article exemption in 40 C.F.R. § 152.25(a).” EPA states that the applicability of the treated article exemption has been discussed publicly by EPA since 2003 in an document published jointly by EPA and Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency entitled “Harmonization of Regulation of Pesticide Seed Treatment in Canada and the United States.” In that document, EPA states that it “plainly indicates that where the conditions of the treated article exemption are met, ‘[s]eeds for planting which are treated with pesticides registered in the U.S. are exempt from registration as pesticides and may be freely distributed and sold within the U.S.’” Thus, EPA states that Petitioners “have failed to meet their burden to demonstrate that the Inspection Guidance (or any other action) constitutes “final agency action” as that term is used in the APA, and thus they have not met their burden of demonstrating jurisdiction.”
On March 16, 2016, Intervenor-Defendants CropLife America, the American Seed Trade Association, the American Soybean Association, the National Cotton Council of America, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Corn Growers Association, and the Agricultural Retailers Association filed to join EPA’s Motion to Dismiss.
More information on the complaint is available in our blog item EPA Sued Over Guidance Classifying Seeds Coated with Neonicotinoid Insecticides as Treated Articles Exempt from Registration under FIFRA.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
On March 8, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a notice in the Federal Register stating that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) will hold a three-day meeting scheduled for April 19-21, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT) to consider and review Chlorpyrifos: Analysis of Biomonitoring Data. The meeting will be held at EPA’s Conference Center, Lobby Level, One Potomac Yard (South Bldg.), 2777 S. Crystal Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22202. The meeting will be webcast. More information will be posted online.
The notice states that written comments are encouraged through April 5, 2016, and that requests for oral comments are encouraged to be submitted by April 12, 2016, but that both may be submitted until the date of the meeting. Nominations of candidates to serve as ad hoc members of FIFRA SAP for the meeting are requested on or before March 23, 2016.
In this meeting, EPA states that it will solicit comment from FIFRA SAP on the evaluation of biomonitoring data using the physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model, proposed points of departure and extrapolation/uncertainty factors, and examples of a proposed approach to use the PBPK model to simulate internal doses of chlorpyrifos from current exposure patterns from drinking water, food, and worker exposure. The FIFRA SAP has been reviewing the human health effects of chlorpyrifos since 2008. The notice states that “at this point in time, the Agency’s analysis of biomonitoring data from the cord blood collected as part of the Columbia University epidemiology studies has progressed to a point where peer review would be useful” and that “[s]pecifically, the Agency has done additional characterization of the pharmacokinetic profile of simulated exposures from oral and dermal exposures using the PBPK model.”
The notice states that in 2008 and 2012, the FIFRA SAP “cautioned EPA against using the biomonitoring data from epidemiology studies … to directly derive points of departure due to uncertainties associated with a lack of knowledge about timing of indoor chlorpyrifos applications and a single measure of exposure (cord blood).” The 2012 FIFRA SAP recommended that EPA use the PBPK model to further characterize the dose estimates in the epidemiology studies.
The notice states that EPA would have preferred to complete its analysis of the available biomonitoring prior to commencing rulemaking, but that the timing for the proposal was directed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ordered EPA to respond to an administrative petition to revoke all chlorpyrifos tolerances by October 31, 2015.
More information on the Ninth Circuit case is available in our blog item Circuit Court Grants Writ of Mandamus Requiring EPA to Act on Petition to Ban Chlorpyrifos.
EPA’s decision to utilize biomonitoring data that was collected as part of the Columbia University epidemiology studies for chlorpyrifos to derive proposed points of departure for risk assessment purposes will be highly controversial. If EPA proceeds to use biomonitoring data from epidemiological studies to derive points of departure for risk assessment purposes, the implications for all pesticide product risk assessments could be significant. Whether EPA can defensibly do so from both a scientific and legal standpoint is a subject that will likely be debated strongly. All pesticide registrants should monitor these developments closely.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a prepublication copy of a notice of intent to cancel all Bayer CropScience, LP and Nichino America, Inc. (BCS/NAI) flubendiamide products. The affected products are:
- EPA Reg. No. 264-1025 -- BELT SC Insecticide;
- EPA Reg. No. 71711-26 -- FLUBENDIAMIDE Technical;
- EPA Reg. No. 71711-32 -- VETICA Insecticide; and
- EPA Reg. No. 71711-33 -- TOURISMO Insecticide.
The cancellation notice was issued by EPA, pursuant to Section 6(e) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and announces EPA’s intent to cancel the registration of these four products based on the registrants’ failure to comply with a required condition of their registrations. Under this condition, which EPA alleges was agreed to by the registrants, each flunbendiamide registrant is required to submit a voluntary cancellation request if EPA finds that the product causes unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.
EPA made such a finding of unreasonable adverse effects in a decision memorandum issued on January 29, 2016, but BCS/NAI has rejected EPA’s request to submit a voluntary cancellation. More information on BCS/NAI’s refusal to submit a request for voluntary cancellation is available in our blog item Bayer Announces That It Will Not Submit Voluntary Cancellation Requests for Flubendiamide.
EPA’s finding of unreasonable adverse effects is based on the purported risk to aquatic invertebrates associated with flubendiamide. More information on EPA’s rationale, including the decision memorandum, is available on EPA’s website. After the cancellation notice is published, each registrant will have 30 days to request a hearing concerning the notice. FIFRA Section 6(e) provides that the only matters that may be considered in the resulting hearing are whether the registrants have complied with the condition in question and whether EPA’s determination on existing stocks is consistent with FIFRA. In contrast, the registrants have stated that EPA is required to provide an adjudicatory hearing concerning the substantive basis for EPA’s determination that the products in question cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.
The dispute between BCS/NAI and EPA concerning cancellation of the conditional registrations for flubendiamide products will be carefully watched by the pesticide industry. The critical issue is whether EPA can effectively circumvent the adjudicatory hearing that would otherwise be available on the substance of EPA’s determination concerning risks and benefits by imposing a condition that requires affected registrants to accept EPA’s determination. EPA will argue that the registrants accepted the condition in question when the registrations for flubendiamide were first issued. The registrants will argue that EPA may not use such a condition to constrain hearing rights because this contravenes the intent of FIFRA.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
On February 10, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was initiating an external peer review of the updated draft protocol for testing the antimicrobial efficacy of copper-containing surface products. The products in question are hard surface copper-containing surface products such as door handles, light switch panels, and bed rails, which are utilized for their antimicrobial characteristics. EPA states that “the testing described in this draft protocol is designed to support registration of copper-containing surface products (such as door knobs or other items that are not intended for food contact) that bear sanitizer claims.” Numerous changes have been made to the draft, including changes to the test microbes, culture preparation, quality control process, and product characterization. Following completion of the review, EPA states that it will evaluate the findings and revise the draft as appropriate prior to posting the final protocol.
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA evaluates the efficacy of antimicrobial products intended to control pathogens that can be detrimental to public health. EPA indicates that antimicrobial efficacy testing of copper-containing surface products poses challenges because of the prolonged product life span, the likelihood that cleaning and disinfecting agents would be used on the surfaces, and the wide variation in potential product forms and use patterns. EPA states the following regarding the protocols and how they will affect the test results:
- This protocol is designed to address these issues by including a product characterization component that challenges the product’s physical durability and chemical stability when used as proposed;
- The efficacy assessment component of the protocol involves evaluation of the performance of two product manufacturing lots against two pathogenic microorganisms -- Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa; and
- The efficacy test results, in combination with the product durability/stability component, will be used to determine the sanitizing activity of the copper-containing surface.
More information is available on EPA’s Antimicrobial Pesticide Registration website. Information regarding other antimicrobial pesticide issues is available in our blog items EPA Posts Revised Antimicrobial Pesticides Use Site Index and EPA Releases Guidance Document: Antimicrobial Pesticides Use Site Index.
Products that are intended to have pesticidal efficacy over a protracted period require testing that differs materially from those pesticides that are only effective for a transient period and, thus, must be used repeatedly. Some believe copper-containing surfaces have great promise as antimicrobial sanitizers, particularly in health care environments where limiting patient exposure to potential pathogens has become a critical institutional concern. EPA’s enhanced test protocols are intended to address questions EPA and others have raised concerning the continued efficacy of a copper-containing surface over a prolonged life span, and the potential impact of cleaning and disinfecting agents.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
Significant issues concerning the scope of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to cancel conditional registrations are raised by recent events concerning flubendiamide products sold in the U.S. by BayerCrop Science LP (Bayer) under the trade name Belt. Bayer announced on February 5, 2016, that it will not comply with EPA’s request that Bayer “voluntarily” cancel its registered flubendiamide products. In a January 29, 2016, letter, EPA stated that flubendiamide and a degradate compound are “mobile, stable/persistent, accumulate in soils, water columns and sediments and are toxic to aquatic invertebrates.” Based primarily on EPA’s ecological risk assessment, EPA has determined “that the continued use of the currently registered flubendiamide products will result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” Bayer disagrees strongly with the EPA risk assessment, because Bayer believes it is based on overly conservative modeling estimates that cannot be reconciled with actual monitoring and environmental fate data for this pesticide.
Conditional registrations for pesticides containing flubendiamide were first granted by EPA under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 3(c)(7) in 2008. As one condition of registration, EPA required Bayer to conduct specific environmental fate studies, which have now been submitted and reviewed. EPA also adopted an initial expiration date for all registrations of flubendiamide products of July 31, 2013, which EPA later agreed to extend several times to allow time for further review and discussion of the submitted data. The current dispute with Bayer involves a specific condition that EPA included in its preliminary acceptance letter for this active ingredient, which EPA contends obligates Bayer to request voluntary cancellation of the registrations now that EPA has made a finding of unreasonable adverse effects. Bayer characterizes the condition in question as “unlawful,” and argues that EPA must afford Bayer a full adjudicatory hearing under FIFRA Section 6(b) before the registrations can be cancelled.
Because Bayer has not submitted the “voluntary” cancellation requests demanded by EPA, EPA has stated that it will initiate the cancellation process for conditional registrations established by FIFRA Section 6(e). Although this process affords Bayer an opportunity for an administrative hearing, the issues in a conditional registration hearing under FIFRA Section 6(e) are limited to “whether the registrant has initiated and pursued appropriate action to comply with the condition,” and the EPA determination concerning disposition of existing stocks. Bayer argues that the condition as it was originally imposed by EPA was improper and denies statutory due process rights, and that EPA must afford Bayer a full adjudicatory hearing under FIFRA Section 6(b) rather than the limited hearing provided under FIFRA Section 6(e).
This dispute presents a variety of important legal questions, including what authority EPA has under FIFRA to impose time limitations or expiration dates for pesticide registrations, the rights a registrant has when it applies to amend or to renew a time-limited registration, and the nature of the conditions that EPA may lawfully impose for a conditional registration under FIFRA Section 3(c)(7). The entire pesticide industry will be watching this matter with great interest.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
On January 6, 2016, a complaint was filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California by a coalition of U.S. beekeepers, farmers, and affiliated non-government organizations (Petitioners). The Petitioners allege that EPA has allowed “the ongoing sale and use of unregistered pesticide products” because, they claim, EPA has incorrectly construed seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides to be “treated articles” exempt from registration under 40 C.F.R. § 152.25(a). Petitioners argue that a 2013 guidance document prepared by EPA for enforcement personnel investigating bee incidents improperly expanded the scope of the “treated article” exemption and was in effect an unlawful rule issued without prior notice and comment.
According to Petitioners, seeds coated with neonicotinoid pesticides should not be considered eligible for the “treated article” exemption because the neonicotinoid pesticide in the coating acts systemically to protect the growing plants after the seeds germinate, rather than to protect the seeds themselves. Based on this analysis, Petitioners argue that each coated seed product is in fact a separate unregistered pesticide that has not been properly evaluated under FIFRA. Petitioners also argue that pesticide loss from these coated seeds has a variety of collateral environmental effects, including effects on pollinators that EPA has not appropriately considered.
The Petitioners have requested that the District Court provide declaratory relief stating that seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides are not eligible for the treated article exemption. Petitioners also request that the District Court enjoin EPA from: (1) allowing any new unregistered neonicotinoid-coated seeds of any crops; and (2) allowing any new unregistered seeds of any crops if they are coated with other systemic insecticides that cause pesticidal effects extending beyond the coated seed and plant itself.
The potential consequences of a reviewing court finding that EPA has improperly construed or expanded the “treated article” exemption by including seeds coated with neonicotinoid insecticides are of significant concern. Such a construction could require that EPA separately register each type of coated seed under FIFRA, regardless of whether EPA adequately evaluated the risks associated with seed treatment when each insecticide was first registered for this use. EPA could seek dismissal of some or all of the Petitioner’s claims on jurisdictional grounds, arguing that the risks and benefits of seed treatment were considered at the time each neonicotinoid insecticide was registered for such use, and that the Petitioners should have sought prior review of those registration decisions in the Court of Appeals within the applicable 60-day window. EPA may also object to the apparent failure of the Petitioners to exhaust their administrative remedies before challenging the policy embodied in the purported “rule,” and also to the Petitioners’ extensive reliance on extra-record evidence.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently launched a new Pesticide Worker Protection Dashboard (Dashboard). EPA states this Dashboard is “focused on the universe of agricultural operations regulated and farm workers and pesticide handlers covered by the Worker Protection Standard.” EPA states that the Dashboard provides charts and graphs presenting certain key enforcement and compliance information related to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) program under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Specifically, the Dashboard has screens which show the number of WPS inspections conducted, the number of violations found during inspections, the types of violations found, and the types and numbers of enforcement actions taken. Since the Dashboard is interactive, users can find answers to questions such as:
- How many facilities in the United States employ workers or handlers covered by the WPS;
- How many inspections are reported; and
- How many violations have been found, and what enforcement actions have been taken by states, tribes and/or EPA.
EPA states that Dashboard information from states and tribes is compiled from data on state and tribal inspections and regulatory actions submitted annually (Form: 5700-33H) to EPA. This form provides information regarding the number of WPS inspections conducted, the types and numbers of violations found, and the number and types of regulatory actions taken during the year. EPA inspection data is obtained from EPA’s Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS) database. Other information is compiled from data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Agricultural Statistics, 2007 and 2012 Census of Agriculture database.
EPA makes several caveats to the data presented, including: (1) EPA does not require regional offices to enter all regulatory actions into ICIS, so many “informal” actions are not recorded; (2) the data included in the Dashboard do not reflect all compliance monitoring/inspections or enforcement activities, nor the full extent of enforcement activity within a state or tribe; and (3) tribal inspections and enforcement actions conducted under sovereign tribal authority and regulations are not EPA reviewed or reported, and are not included in the Dashboard.
The Dashboard shows data from 2010 to 2014 to provide context at the national level, or within a state or tribe. EPA plans to update the information annually when new data are available (e.g., after annual state and tribal reporting forms are submitted to EPA).
The Dashboard provides interesting information and should be monitored, as many groups will likely use it in support of their unique interests.
More information on the WPS is available in our blog item EPA Publishes Worker Protection Standard Final Rule.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
On December 17, 2015, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Case Nos. 14-73353, et al. (consolidated), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a reply in support of its motion for voluntary vacatur and remand of its decision granting a registration to intervenor DowAgroSciences LLC (DowAgro) for Enlist Duo herbicide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). DowAgro responded to the motion by agreeing that remand is appropriate but opposing vacatur as an effort to circumvent the normal cancellation process, while the petitioners Center for Food Safety, et al. (CFS) filed a response supporting the motion for vacatur. More information on the DowAgro and CFS responses is available in our blog entry DowAgro and Center for Food Safety File Responses to EPA’s Motion for Voluntary Vacatur and Remand.
In its reply, EPA rejects the argument by DowAgro that it is trying to “short-circuit” the normal cancellation procedures under FIFRA. Citing recent Ninth Circuit precedent on vacatur, EPA argues that “vacatur would be more protective of the environment during the time in which EPA evaluates the new information, and Dow has failed to demonstrate any disruptive consequences of vacatur.”
EPA also takes issue with certain statements by CFS that it characterizes as “erroneous or irrelevant.” EPA contradicts assertions by CFS that EPA overlooked important evidence concerning the synergistic effects of Enlist Duo’s principal ingredients, that EPA determined that Enlist Duo will not protect endangered non-target plants, that EPA has violated the ESA, and that EPA is approaching synergistic effects as a new issue. EPA also objects to the efforts of CFS to introduce an extra-record newspaper article.
This case will continue to be watched closely, as there is widespread industry concern about EPA’s effort to use a judicial process in lieu of normal adjudicatory procedures and about EPA’s substantive approach to evaluating synergistic efficacy data. In this regard, it is noteworthy that the issue of potential synergistic effects is relatively narrow and does not appear to be among the purported deficiencies in the EPA decision originally cited by the petitioners.
By Sheryl L. Dolan and Margaret R. Graham
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated the electronic reporting option for pesticide establishments using the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section Seven Tracking System (SSTS), now referred to as the Enhanced Section Seven Tracking System (eSSTS). On December 17, 21, 22 and 28, EPA will hold four public webinars to explain the Central Data Exchange (CDX) registration process for the eSSTS and demonstrate report submission using eSSTS. EPA state that any establishments/authorized agents that used electronic reporting last year should automatically be registered to use the new eSSTS system. CDX registration for eSSTS will be open after December 18, 2015; submitters will need to register to use the new system. Pesticide establishments can use the CDX to submit EPA Form 3540-16 “Pesticide Report for Pesticide-Producing and Device-Producing Establishments,” the annual pesticide establishment report required under FIFRA Sections 7 and 17 to be submitted by all active domestic and foreign pesticide producing establishments, regardless of whether or not the establishment produced or distributed a pesticide, active ingredient, or device, by March 1 of each calendar year.
The first webinar on December 17, 2015, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (EST) will explain the CDX registration process for the eSSTS. Webinars 2, 3, and 4 will cover eSSTS training, but will all have the same information -- participants only need to attend one of these sessions. Additional announcements and reporting instructions are posted on EPA’s Pesticide Establishment webpage. More information on the specific trainings is listed below. The links will not be active until the time of the webinar:
- CDX Registration Training for EPA's eSSTS, Thursday, December 17, 2015, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. (EST) (Recorded): An Overview of how to set up an EPA CDX account and set up a user role under EPA's eSSTS, will be available at http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/eSSTSCDX.
- EPA's eSSTS Industry User Training 1, Monday, December 21, 2015, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (EST) (Recorded): Industry overview of EPA's eSSTS, will be available at http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/eSSTS_Industry_Testing.
- EPA's eSSTS Industry User Training 2, Tuesday, December 22, 2015, 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. (EST): Industry overview of EPA's (eSSTS), will be available at http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/eSSTS_Industry_Testing2.
- EPA's eSSTS Industry User Training 3, Monday, December 28, 2015, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (EST): Industry overview of EPA's eSSTS, will be available at http://epawebconferencing.acms.com/eSSTS_Industry_Testing3.
By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, James V. Aidala, and Timothy D. Backstrom
On December 7, 2015, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Case Nos. 14-73353, et al. (consolidated) Intervenor Dow AgroSciences, LLC (DowAgro) filed a response, and Petitioner the Center for Food Safety, et al. (CFS, et al.) filed joinder in and response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) motion for voluntary vacatur and remand of EPA’s registration of DowAgro’s Enlist Duo herbicide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as well as a response to DowAgro’s Fact Sheet, a public statement made by DowAgro after EPA’s motion was filed.
DowAgro’s response calls EPA’s motion a “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” motion. The request for remand, DowAgro states, is “uncontroversial” and will allow the agency to review the new information that may bear on the pesticide registration. DowAgro thus does not object to the remand and believes ultimately that “the new information cited by respondents has no impact on the validity of the existing registration.”
On the other hand, DowAgro argues that EPA’s request to vacate the registration is “novel and unlawful.” DowAgro states that EPA is trying to “short-circuit [the FIFRA] regulatory scheme and abdicate the responsibilities Congress assigned to the agency.” Specifically, DowAgro argues this case is “closely analogous” to the Reckitt Benckiser case (762 F. Supp. 2d 34 (D.D.C. 2011), where the court did not allow EPA to circumvent the statutory cancellation regime, finding that FIFRA Section 6 “establishes a detailed, multistep process that EPA must follow when it wants to cancel or suspend a registration.” Id. at 42 (emphasis in original). DowAgro states that the court must “limit its relief to a remand for the agency to exercise primary jurisdiction to review the new information and decide what additional steps, if any, are warranted.” While EPA reviews the additional information, DowAgro has agreed to “stop sales of Enlist Duo, and to work out an appropriate agreement to that effect with the agency.”
CFS, et al.’s filing asserts that vacatur is the appropriate remedy. CFS, et al. states that EPA now “has an opportunity -- a mandate -- to meet its duties under FIFRA and the ESA, and ensure Enlist Duo’s safety.” CFS, et al. “not only agree, but believe EPA greatly downplays the potential for harm by focusing only on the buffers and terrestrial plants,” and states that the “potential for harm far outweighs any likely economic disruption to Intervenor Dow.”
The outcome of the issue raised by EPA’s motion, and DowAgro’s position that EPA should not be permitted to “bypass” regulatory cancellation procedures is of significant interest to all pesticide registrants. This case will be closely watched not only because Enlist Duo is a major new product for Dow and a new tool in the herbicide-tolerant crop world, but also because of the potentially precedential process that EPA’s motion seeks with regard to pesticide registrations.
More information on EPA’s motion is available in our blog entry EPA Files Motion for Voluntary Vacatur and Remand of Enlist Duo Registration.