The Trump administration is locked in yet another showdown with the judiciary branch.
A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration violated the law when the Environmental Protection Agency refused to ban a pesticide known to cause neurological and developmental disorders.
The order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to finally ban the pesticide, called chlorpyrifos, comes a year after former EPA chief Scott Pruitt attempted to defend the use of the chemical even after he was confronted with the agency's own research showing that chlorpyrifos can lead to health issues, most often in children and infants. In 2017, Pruitt overturned an Obama administration proposal to prohibit the pesticide that had been issued in response to a petition by environmental groups back in 2007. He further delayed issuing regulations until 2021.
Judge Jed S. Rakoff sharply criticized Pruitt's actions, writing in his opinion that "there was no justification for the EPA's decision in its 2017 order to maintain a tolerance for chlorpyrifos in the face of scientific evidence that its residue on food causes neurodevelopmental damage to children."
Chlorpyrifos was created by Dow Chemical Co. in the 1960s and is used on crops like corn and soybeans. While the government argued that restricting the pesticide would harm farmers, the court found the EPA to be violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which requires the agency to ban pesticides used on food if they are known to be dangerous.
The appeals court ordered the EPA to reverse the tolerances for chlorpyrifos and the approvals for its use within 60 days, providing a win for environmentalists and health groups. Read more at The Hill.