Endangered Species Act

GCSAA shares in EPA’s commitment to ensure that actions carried out by it and other federal agencies should not harm endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of their critical habitat. However, protecting endangered species and habitat does not need to be contradictory with easing the regulatory burdens faced by industry. GCSAA and its members have long-standing support, involvement and implementation of environmental stewardship programs that protect wildlife species and habitat throughout the U.S. GCSAA supports EPA and USDA working with federal fish and wildlife agencies to promulgate new rules that establish clear and equitable procedures for notice and comment on the EPA’s pesticide effects determinations for endangered species and subsequent actions including draft Biological Opinions and potential product restrictions. Any consultation process should be responsible, streamlined and sustainable to mitigate against ongoing ESA Section 7 litigation.

GCSAA supports implementation of the Trump Administration’s January 31, 2018 Memorandum of Understanding between EPA-Interior-Commerce which established an Interagency Working Group to evaluate and improve the ESA consultation process for pesticide registration. The 2018 Farm Bill supports the same interagency engagement. GCSAA will support the existing collaborative Farm Bill language as Congress works on the 2023 Farm Bill.

GCSAA will educate impacted federal agencies including the EPA, USDA, USFWS and NMFS on the association’s national Best Management Practices initiative and work toward inclusion of golf specific BMPs as a means for ESA mitigation.

To meet the conservation and species recovery goals of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs must consult on each "action" to register or re-register a pesticide use with other federal fish and wildlife agencies like the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Through a formal 3 step consultation process, EPA is required to make an “effects determination” on whether registration of an active ingredient may harm a threatened or endangered species or its habitat. If there may be harm, a formal “consultation process” is initiated between federal agencies and specific steps for consultation are outlined in Section 7 of the ESA.

The ESA Section 7 consultation process has been flawed over time, and the lack of a clear and transparent process has jeopardized the availability and use of effective products to the golf industry. Activist-driven litigation has been coercing the ESA consultation process for pesticides for the past decade. While each court case is different, settlement agreements often require stopping use of targeted active ingredients while EPA re-examines targeted active ingredients on targeted species and habitat. It can take years for the re-evaluation to occur. Further complicating matters, EPA uses a risk-benefit analysis to evaluate the registration and use of active ingredients, and the fish and wildlife agencies examine pesticide use from a hazard only lens. The intersection of FIFRA and ESA continues to present a significant challenge for the registration of pesticides.

EPA for decades has not successfully implemented ESA consultation process obligations as part of pesticide registration activities. However, it has been EPA’s intention to integrate ESA consultation process obligations into its Registration Review process.

In 2011, EPA, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), USFWS and NMFS asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to evaluate the ESA consultation review process and help impacted federal agencies develop a solid consultation process. In November 2013, NAS released a much-anticipated report stating that EPA, NMFS, and USFWS should use a common approach when determining the potential effects a pesticide has on an endangered species and their environment. In January 2022, EPA announced a new workplan that reflects the Agency’s most comprehensive thinking to date on how to create a sustainable ESA-FIFRA program.

  • Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE)
  • Pesticide Policy Coalition (PPC)