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. This consultation process is outlined in Section 7 of the ESA. During the past 35+ years, EPA has not successfully implemented ESA obligations for pesticides. However, it has been EPA’s intention to integrate ESA into the Registration Review process. Instead, activist-driven litigation is now driving the ESA consultation process for pesticides.
The ESA Section 7 consultation process is flawed and the lack of a clear and transparent ESA consultation process is seriously jeopardizing the availability and use of effective products to the golf industry. In 2011, EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and NMFS asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to evaluate the ESA consultation review process for pesticide registration actions related to endangered species. In November 2013, the NAS released its much anticipated report on pesticides and endangered species stating that EPA, the NMFS, and the FWS should use a common approach when determining the potential effects a pesticide has on an endangered species and its environment. In 2014, the EPA began holding workshops to provide a forum for stakeholders to offer scientific and technical feedback on the joint interim approaches issued in November 2013. These stakeholder meetings continued throughout 2015.
The most serious challenge to the integrity of pesticide registrations approved under FIFRA is ESA litigation. The new ESA consultation process as currently coordinated between EPA, USDA and other agencies has led to a years-long evaluation process of over 30,000 pages of material for the first three pesticides alone. This new assessment process is time consuming, costly and not practical. It will cost hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and take decades to complete. But it is currently the template of what it takes to conduct an ESA consultation for pesticide products.