Arent Fox Wins Federal Court Dispute Over Pesticide Regulations
On November 22, a California federal court ruled in favor of the US Environmental Protection Agency and agricultural trade associations represented by Arent Fox LLP after a group of plaintiffs, including environmental activists, alleged that the federal agency had not done enough to regulate pesticide-coated seeds. Partners Karen Carr and Stanley Abramson led a team from Arent Fox that included associates Katie Heilman, Laura Zell, and Andrew Solinger and litigation paralegal specialist Jack Hitt, and, as local counsel in San Francisco counsel Joel Muchmore, senior paralegal Darren Cadiz, and secretary Kim Denison. The decision can be found here.
The trade groups – including CropLife America, the American Seed Trade Association, the Agricultural Retailers Association, the National Cotton Council of America, the American Soybean Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Corn Growers Association – supported EPA in upholding its current regulatory approach to treated seed. The trade groups argued that the relief sought by the plaintiffs — an order requiring EPA to regulate seeds treated with pesticides as if the seeds were pesticides — would unnecessarily duplicate EPA’s science-based review of the seed treatments used to treat seed.
The US District Court, Northern District of California agreed with EPA and the trade groups and found that the plaintiffs had failed to identify any “final agency action” on which to base their claims. More specifically, the court found that the 2013 Bee Guidance document on which the plaintiffs had focused their claims was neither an “agency action” nor “final” under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that the plaintiffs’ claims were not reviewable by a court.
In a press release, the trade groups noted that, “The decision protects the ability of growers to continue using seed treatment pesticides that are vital to American agriculture, permits EPA to retain its current regulatory approach, and allows the agency and the agricultural value chain to continue their important work on pollinator health issues.”