This week, several outlets reported the news of a final signed settlement agreement in the longstanding case against US EPA filed in 2011 by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network of North America, commonly termed the “Mega” case. Some headlines sparked confusion, appearing to suggest that the final signed settlement indicates the Court’s approval of the recently released draft Vulnerable Species Pilot. As proposed in the first draft, the pilot would restrict pesticide use on approximately 1 million acres in the Willamette Valley. However, the final settlement does not approve the specific content of the draft version of the Pilot.
The final signed settlement does commit EPA to moving forward with some form of the pilot, which is intended to provide protection for the most vulnerable listed endangered species across the U.S. The final settlement also commits EPA to reach final decisions on several other draft proposals that have come out in recent months, including proposed changes to labels for rodenticides and the draft herbicide strategy. Some of our national partners, including CropLife America and RISE, were intervenors in the Mega case and have supported the final settlement as an overall approach, while urging EPA to find reasonable paths forward within specific proposals that balance species protection with the need for continued and increased production of food and fiber.
It is anticipated that EPA will make changes to the draft Vulnerable Species Pilot in response to the 10,000+ comments they received. OFS remains engaged with regional and national partners on this proposal, and we are asking EPA to refine habitat areas, which would reduce the 1 million acres of habitat identified by EPA for Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly in Oregon to its currently known critical habitat of just under 20 acres in Oregon.
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