Landmark Legal Settlement Locks in EPA Actions to Protect Endangered Species From Pesticides
Landmark Legal Settlement Locks in EPA Actions to Protect ... Center for Biological Diversity
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Legal Agreement to Protect Endangered Species from Pesticides
A historic legal agreement approved in federal district court yesterday afternoon commits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a suite of proposed reforms to better protect endangered species from pesticides. The settlement, which covers more than 300 pesticide active ingredients, marks the culmination of the largest Endangered Species Act case ever filed against the EPA.
Proposed Reforms to Protect Endangered Species
Under the terms of the agreement, the EPA will develop strategies to reduce the harm to endangered species from broad groups of pesticides, including herbicides and insecticides. The agency will also take further steps to target meaningful, on-the-ground protections to endangered species most vulnerable to harm from pesticides. These measures aim to benefit both endangered species and humans, as these chemicals are linked to severe health harms in farmworkers and rural communities.
Timeline for Implementation
The legal agreement requires the EPA to develop a strategy to better protect endangered species from herbicides by 2024 and insecticides by 2025. The agency has recently released the draft herbicide strategy for public comment. Additionally, the settlement mandates the EPA to address the harms of eight especially hazardous organophosphate insecticides on endangered species by 2027.
Benefits for Public Health and Environment
Many pesticides covered by this agreement are linked to birth defects and cancer in people, making this a significant step forward for public health. Protecting the environment from pesticides also benefits farmworkers and communities that are suffering from pesticides polluting their soil, air, and water.
Endangered Species and Expanded Protections
The agreement requires the EPA to analyze expanding pilot programs to reduce impacts on endangered species that are especially vulnerable to pesticide threats. The agency has released its draft plan for the first 27 pilot species, which restricts pesticide use in the areas where the species are found and implements vital protections in surrounding areas. The EPA is finalizing the first pilot project while considering which species to focus on for its next round of protective actions. Endangered species especially vulnerable to pesticides that will benefit from expanded protections under this agreement include the rusty patched bumblebee and imperiled butterflies like the Taylor’s checkerspot and Powersheik skipperling.
Industry Collaboration and Compliance
In the agreement, industry representatives at CropLife America agreed to organize a workshop to strategize on ways to improve endangered species compliance.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America brought this lawsuit in 2011 to force the EPA to comply with the Endangered Species Act and protect imperiled wildlife when approving pesticides. In 2019, the parties reached a partial settlement requiring the EPA to assess the risks that eight of the nation’s most harmful herbicides, insecticides, and rodenticides pose to imperiled plants and animals. Assessments of these pesticides were completed in 2021, and assessments of four rodenticides must be finalized in 2024.
For decades, the EPA has failed to comply with the Endangered Species Act’s requirements to consult with expert wildlife agencies to reduce the harm of pesticides to protected species. As a result of ongoing pressure and court decisions, the EPA released its first-ever comprehensive workplan last year to address how it would protect endangered species from pesticides. The agency is also initiating pilot programs focused on reforming the pesticide-approval process to correct violations of the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, the EPA committed in early 2022 to analyzing the effects of new pesticide active ingredients on endangered species before registering them.
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators Analysis
1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?
- SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
- SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
- SDG 13: Climate Action
- SDG 15: Life on Land
The article discusses the harmful effects of pesticides on endangered species, human health, and the environment. These issues are directly connected to the SDGs mentioned above.
2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?
- Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
- Target 6.3: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping, and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials.
- Target 12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water, and soil to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
- Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.
- Target 15.5: Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity, and protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.
These targets are relevant to the issues discussed in the article, as they aim to reduce the negative impacts of pesticides on human health, water quality, chemical management, climate change, and biodiversity.
3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?
Yes, there are indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets. These include:
- Number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and pollution
- Water quality indicators, such as levels of pesticide pollution
- Management of chemicals and wastes throughout their life cycle
- Integration of climate change measures into policies and planning
- Reduction in the degradation of natural habitats and biodiversity loss
These indicators can be used to assess the progress made in addressing the issues related to pesticides and their impacts.
4. Table: SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
|SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being||Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.||Number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and pollution.|
|SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation||Target 6.3: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping, and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials.||Water quality indicators, such as levels of pesticide pollution.|
|SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production||Target 12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water, and soil to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.||Management of chemicals and wastes throughout their life cycle.|
|SDG 13: Climate Action||Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.||Integration of climate change measures into policies and planning.|
|SDG 15: Life on Land||Target 15.5: Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity, and protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.||Reduction in the degradation of natural habitats and biodiversity loss.|
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