WASHINGTON – The American Crop Protection Association challenged the Natural Resources Defense Council lawsuit settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency involving implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act as “11th hour political mischief by the Clinton EPA, which will only hurt the public.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation calls it a “slap in the face to ranchers and farmers.”
EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council settled the lawsuit, but an earlier suit brought by farm organizations would have provided better protection to consumers by ensuring scientific implementation of the FQPA, according to Jay J. Vroom, association president.
In June 1999 – nearly two months before the defense council’s first lawsuit was filed – 18 organizations filed a lawsuit against EPA for implementing the law without following proper rule-making procedures that would ensure full public participation.
“Why all of a sudden is EPA deviating from Vice President Gore’s April 8, 1998, directive for FQPA to be implemented on the basis of sound science, a transparent regulatory process and input from public stakeholders?” asks Vroom. “Industry and agriculture producers have tried for more than a year to settle our lawsuit with EPA. Apparently it takes a political deadline for the agency to take action.”
Vroom called the settlement an attempt “to blatantly tie the hands of the next administration from fairly and scientifically implementing the 1996 law.”
For example, Vroom says the settlement would accelerate cumulative safety assessments of pesticides under the Act, even though an EPA scientific advisory panel concluded in December the agency has a long way to go to determine how to conduct such a review.
“When political science trumps sound science, everyone loses,” said Vroom.
The Natural Resources Defense Council filed its lawsuits against EPA in the fall of 1999 in the Northern District Court of California and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said the settlement “deprives farmers and other formal petitioners in this suit of their ability to have any meaningful opportunity to review the proposal, let alone provide any substantive comment.”