April 27, 2017

Warren and Pallone Request EPA Inspector General Investigation of Administrator Pruitt's Reversal of Proposed Ban on Hazardous Pesticide

Text of the letter is available here (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General, requesting an investigation into Administrator Scott Pruitt's decision to reject a petition banning the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, reversing a previous EPA proposal to terminate use of this chemical and ignoring the EPA's scientific record on the risks from this neurotoxin.  

The Members of Congress cited EPA's "vast scientific record" demonstrating the risk posed by chlorpyrifos, and the fact that the decision to ban the pesticide had been "based on more-than-a-decade of accumulated scientific work and evidence." Despite this record, in one of his first formal actions at the EPA, Administrator Pruitt reversed the agency's carefully reviewed October 2015 decision to ban the use of chlorpyrifos. 

"Administrator Pruitt's hasty reversal of this decision and intention to delay any further action to the full extent permissible under current law is difficult to understand," wrote Warren and Pallone. "It appears not to be based on EPA's existing recent scientific findings about the risk, or any new information that contradicts the findings about the health and safety risks of chlorpyrifos."

The EPA's own voluminous assessments of the human health risk and drinking water exposure posed by chlorpyrifos found that the pesticide's residue on crops and in drinking water exceeds federal safety standards and puts children's health at risk. 

The Members asked the EPA Inspector General to clarify how Administrator Pruitt reached his decision, including whether he had communicated with any representatives of the pesticide industry beforehand. Warren and Pallone also asked the EPA to detail Administrator Pruitt's rationale in reversing "an agency decision that had been years in the making," and determine if the decision was consistent with relevant pesticide and food safety laws.

Administrator Pruitt's action "does not appear to be consistent with the law, which requires that pesticide products cannot be used unless ‘there is reasonable certainty that no harm will result from the aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue,'" wrote the Members. They also raised concerns about the EPA's public disclosure about the risks from chlorpyrifos, noting that a reference to the proposed ban of the pesticide and a link detailing its health risks were recently removed from the agency's website.

To read the full text of the letter, click here