Judge orders buffers for pesticide use

7/18/03 -

from WA State Farm Bureau

A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS ORDERED THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY to adopt temporary no-spray buffers along salmon-bearing waterways in Washington, Oregon, California and Idaho for 54 pesticides while it determines their potential impact on salmon.

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour will determine the size of the buffers following a hearing next month.

However, the Washington Toxics Coalition is asking for 60-foot buffers for ground applications and 300-foot buffers for aerial applications.

Washington Farm Bureau is an intervener in the case and part of a coalition that will present testimony at the hearing on the potential impact for farmers.

In 2002, Coughenour ruled that EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Services before setting application guidelines for the pesticides. He ordered the EPA to develop a timeline for consultations and to issue new guidelines under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The court-ordered buffers would remain in place until new FIFRA guidelines are approved, which could take years.

Another Judicial Ruling

A FEDERAL JUDGE IN OREGON HAS RULED THAT A 10-YEAR GOVERNMENT PLAN for balancing the needs of fish and farmers for water in the Klamath Basin violates the Endangered Species Act. (AP/The Olympian, July 18)

U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong said the Klamath Basin plan was "arbitrary and capricious" because it relies on actions by states and private parties outside federal control.

U.S. District Judge James Redden recently used the same reasoning in ruling against a federal plan for protecting threatened or endangered salmon in the Columbia River basin.

Like Redden, Armstrong left the plan in place while directing the National Marine Fisheries Service to remedy the shortcomings.

Irrigators Fight Back

TWO IRRIGATORS ASSOCIATIONS HAVE FILED OFFICIAL NOTICE OF INTENT TO sue the federal government over its plan to protect salmon in the Columbia River Basin. (Tri-City Herald, July 16)

The Columbia-Snake River and Eastern Oregon irrigators associations contend the plan gives too much weight to the impact of hydroelectric dams on fish mortality and not enough on other factors such as ocean conditions.

Several environmental groups also challenged the plan, known as a biological opinion, when it was issued in December 2000, and U.S.

District Judge James Redden has already ruled that it fails to meet requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

The judge, who gave the National Marine Fisheries Service a year to update the plan, recently turned down a request by the irrigators to intervene in that case.


Judge orders buffers for pesticide use

The Olympian


PORTLAND -- A federal judge on Thursday ordered the government to establish temporary buffer zones for more than 50 common pesticides along salmon-bearing streams while it creates permanent environmental regulations.

The order, issued by U.S. District Judge John Coughenour in Seattle, comes after the court ruled in 2002 in favor of environmentalists and fishing groups who sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its pesticide regulations.

Coughenour's action was hailed as a major victory by environmentalists, who said the buffers would protect dwindling salmon numbers from pesticides while the government devises more thorough rules -- a process that could take years. The buffers to salmon streams would be located anywhere along the coast from the Puget Sound to Central California.

"There's so few restrictions on agricultural activities to protect salmon, and it takes so long to get meaningful restrictions on pesticide use," said Patti Goldman, managing attorney for Earthjustice, a plaintiff in the case.

Heather Hansen, with Washington Friends of Farms and Families, did not return calls for comment Thursday. Officials from the American Crop Protection Association also did not return calls.

In the original lawsuit, the groups alleged that the agency hadn't evaluated the threat to 26 threatened and endangered salmon species posed by 54 pesticides used on everything from forests to suburban lawns.

As a result of the lawsuit, the EPA must consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine permanent regulations for those pesticides. That process could result in a ban on some chemicals and severe restrictions on others.

Glen Spain, regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, said the order was good news for anglers.

"The salmon industry was a $1.25 billion industry in the Northwest, and now it's shrunk to a ghost of that because of salmon declines," he said. "The region is spending tens -- if not hundreds -- of millions of dollars to help save these salmon, and it doesn't make any sense to continue poisoning them in the meantime


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