EPA Seeks Pesticide Makers' Input to Improve Endangered Species Act Assessments

A bush of bug-eaten green leaves with multiple holes

June 1, 2023

As pesticide application process moves to incorporate endangered species assessments, agency releases draft guidance seeking public comment

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency released draft guidance for pesticide producers submitting applications that require regulatory review under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). EPA's draft guidance suggests applicants may potentially decrease review time by taking actions that preemptively mitigate potential risks to threatened and endangered species.

The agency is seeking public comment on the draft guidance until June 16. "Although this document does not create new requirements for applicants," EPA said in a statement released May 17, "the recommendations in the guidance will help applicants address potential effects to listed species for new active ingredients and registration review actions."

The draft guidance applies to:

  • New conventional pesticides and biopesticides intended for outdoor use
  • Conventional pesticides and biopesticides intended for outdoor use that are being reevaluated under registration review

EPA's draft guidance recommendations focus on voluntary actions the agency says will expedite the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) action and improve the efficiency of the overall ESA-FIFRA process.

Examples of these actions include:

  • Identifying where a pesticide will be used
  • Considering routes of exposure and how endangered species may be impacted by a proposed use pattern
  • Determining overlap of endangered species range/critical habitat and pesticide use sites, including from off-site transport (e.g., drift and runoff)
  • Identifying mitigation measures to reduce exposure

When finalized, this proposed guidance would fulfill EPA requirements outlined in the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2022 (PRIA 5), which mandates that EPA develop and issue guidance to pesticide producers to support the evaluation of potential adverse effects from outdoor uses of pesticide products on listed species and designated critical habitat.

EPA stated that the guidance document for new uses of existing active ingredients will be made available at a later date. This action builds on a policy change that started at the beginning of 2023, emphasizing the agency's responsibilities under ESA to assess new pesticide registrations and reevaluations for their potential impacts on listed species.

For pesticide producers, review and consideration of the draft guidance is critical to ensure applications move through the ecological and endangered species assessment process in a timely manner by preemptively identifying effective mitigation opportunities that achieve strategic product objectives and prevent impacts to listed species.    

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