States sue over EPA’s decision to keep pesticide on market

Led by New York, the coalition of states filed a motion Wednesday to intervene in the legal fight over the continued spraying of chlorpyrifos on food crops.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Several states are seeking to join a legal challenge to a Trump administration decision to keep a widely used pesticide on the market despite studies showing it can harm children’s brains.

Led by New York, the coalition filed a motion Wednesday to intervene in a legal fight over the continued spraying of chlorpyrifos on food. Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia are also seeking to join the suit pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.

The states claim that Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt violated the law by ending his agency’s effort to ban the pesticide sold by Dow Chemical after federal scientists concluded it can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants. Federal law requires EPA to ensure that pesticides used on food in the United States are safe for human consumption — especially by children, who studies show are typically far more sensitive to negative effects from pesticides.

“Job No. 1 for the EPA should be protecting Americans’ wellbeing, especially that of our children,” said Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, in announcing the legal action. “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.”

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The EPA said Thursday it was reviewing the lawsuit.

Pruitt told Congress last month his decision was based on “meaningful data and meaningful science.” Despite repeated requests, EPA has thus far not provided The Associated Press with copies of any scientific studies Pruitt consulted in determining the pesticide is safe.

Public-health advocates have been pushing for years to ban chlorpyrifos, which is commonly sprayed on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops. Lawyers for Dow and the makers of two other organophosphate pesticides also asked the Trump administration “to set aside” the results of government studies showing they pose a risk to nearly every federally protected endangered species.

Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics also urged EPA to ban chlorpyrifos. The group representing more than 66,000 pediatricians…

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