Bush Administration to Ease Pesticide Reviews
by John Heilprin, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Officials admit they pretty much ignore an Endangered Species Act requirement that they consult with one another before licensing new pesticides. Now they want regulations to say they don't always have to do what they're already not doing.
The Bush administration proposes allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to approve new pesticides without a formal signoff in every case from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
By not requiring so many consultations, the government says it becomes more likely that the ones still required will occur.
"There haven't been any effective consultations in the last decade, and few before that," said Clint Riley, special assistant to the Fish and Wildlife Service director. "This has been sitting around under the cover for a lot of years."
The Endangered Species Act, signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, requires the government to ensure its actions don't jeopardize the survival of plants, animals, and fish. To do that, EPA must consult with the other two agencies.
Administration officials say the consultations haven't been occurring for a long time now, so they want to fix the process. Their actions affect more than 1,200 species and thousands of pesticides, many used in household products.
The new regulations would:
"This isn't a carte blanche authorization for them to make their own call," Riley said. "This is a structured, defined scenario in which they don't have to check with us every time."
He said letting the other agencies skip doing additional studies creates "a presumption that EPA's analysis would have effectively considered the effects on endangered species."
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