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Monitoring Property & the Built Environment

National Family Farm Coalition v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Overview

National Family Farm Coalition v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. Court of Appeals – Ninth Circuit, June 3, 2020): The Ninth Circuit vacated EPA’s conditional registration of the weed-killer, dicamba, for use in soybean and cotton crops. Dicamba’s toxicity extends to fruiting vegetables, certain flowers, plants, and trees. Dicamba’s volatility under various conditions causes off-site drift. In 2016, EPA conditionally approved reformulated dicamba-based herbicides for use in dicamba-resistant soybean and cotton crops for two-years under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). It issued labeling restrictions to reduce drift. The court held EPA’s issuance of another conditional two-year registration in 2018 violated FIFRA. FIFRA allows EPA to conditionally amend an herbicide’s registration if “the new use will not significantly increase the risk of any unreasonable adverse effect on humans or the environment.” EPA: (1) substantially understated risks it acknowledged including soaring herbicide drift complaints following the 2016 approval; and (2) did not acknowledge risks it was required to consider. Substantial evidence showed that “even conscientious applicators” would not follow the numerous “complex and onerous label requirements” that EPA added in 2018 to further mitigate off-site drift. Evidence of social costs were also ignored, including how conditional use of dicamba had “torn apart the social fabric of many farming communities” by damaging neighboring crops. Read the decision here.


View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – July 15, 2020.

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