NRDC V. USEPA, No. 20-70787 (9th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”) require the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to regulate pesticides, which are defined to include herbicides. EPA issued an Interim Registration Review Decision for glyphosate (“Interim Decision”), which: (1) announced that its earlier draft human-health and ecological risk assessments were final; (2) contained a brief cost-benefit analysis concluding that the benefits outweighed the potential ecological risks when glyphosate is used according to label directions; and (3) laid out various mitigation measures, in the form of label changes for glyphosate products, to reduce the potential ecological risks. EPA still planned, among other things, to complete an assessment of glyphosate’s effect on endangered and threatened species, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).
Petitioners filed for review of the Interim Decision: one led by Rural Coalition and the other by Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”). The Ninth Circuit (1) granted in part and denied in part a petition for review challenging the EPA’s decision determining that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, does not pose “any unreasonable risk to man or the environment”; and (2) remanded to the agency for further consideration.
The court held that EPA’s conclusion was in tension with parts of the agency’s own analysis and with the Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment (“Cancer Guidelines”), which EPA purported to follow. Further, that EPA’s registration review decision under FIFRA was an “action” that triggered the ESA’s consultation requirement; EPA actively exercised its regulatory power, completing an assessment of glyphosate’s risks under FIFRA and delineating what constituted acceptable glyphosate use under the statute’s safety standard.