Pruitt’s pesticide problem

Kristin Schafer's picture Kristin Schafer Follow @KristinAtPAN
Angry about pesticides

I wonder if EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt thought no one would notice when he decided to ignore his agency’s own scientists and greenlight continued use of Dow Chemical’s brain-harming pesticide, chlorpyrifos. If so, he was in for quite a surprise.

It turns out a lot of folks are outraged by Pruitt’s reversal of the planned withdrawal of the insecticide, which has been shown to increase risk of learning disabilities, ADHD and autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics called the decision “deeply alarming.” Attorneys General from seven states filed an administrative appeal to EPA (mirroring our own) in early June. And last week, five states and Washington DC took steps to officially join the federal lawsuit we filed back in 2007 demanding action on chlorpyrifos.

Here’s New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:

Job No. 1 for the EPA should be protecting Americans’ well-being, especially that of our children. Yet the administration is jeopardizing our kids’ health, allowing the use of a toxic pesticide for which it can’t even identify a safe level.”

And that’s not all.

States step up to protect kids

State lawmakers across the country are taking note as well. In Minnesota, legislators introduced a resolution calling on EPA to “act on its findings that chlorpyrifos exposures are unsafe and to establish short-term deadlines” to get chlorpyrifos off the market.

In New Jersey, legislation banning the insecticide has already passed one chamber of the statehouse, and is now headed to the other.

And in California, which uses more chlorpyrifos than any other state, pressure on policymakers to protect children’s health is ramping up. Yesterday, hundreds of community members from the state’s agricultural Central Valley gathered in Sacramento to press the Governor and other state officials to protect California’s children from this neurotoxic pesticide.

They also delivered more than 164,000 signatures and a letter signed by more than 75 organizations across the state calling for a chlorpyrifos ban, now.

Corporate profits can’t trump public health

As we said back in March when EPA announced the decision, Pruitt’s reversal on chlorpyrifos puts the new administration’s approach to protecting public health and the environment on clear display. Corporate bottom lines come first, even when the science is clear and the health of millions of children, farmworkers and rural families are at risk.

Pruitt’s claims of “unresolved” science on chlorpyrifos as justification for his decision fell flat — particularly when it was revealed last month that despite assurances of “no meetings with Dow,” records revealed that he had met with the CEO in March just weeks before making his chlorpyrifos decision.

Putting Dow’s short-term profits before children’s health is immoral, anti-science and wrong. As the courts will soon determine, it may well be illegal too.

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