Hearing Set for EPA Motion for Summary Judgment in Neonicotinoid Treated Seed Proceedings
The following documents have been filed in the Anderson v. McCarthy proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California: (1) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Notice of Motion and Motion for Summary Judgment; (2) Defendant-Intervenors CropLife America, et al.’s Notice of Motion and Motion for Summary Judgment; and (3) Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment.
EPA’s documents are of particular interest to those who have been following this case and are concerned about the assertions in the case regarding the treated article exemption. In its motion, EPA argues that the Ninth Circuit lacks jurisdiction to hear Plaintiffs’ claims, as the “EPA guidance document they challenge is not a judicially reviewable agency action -- much less a final action -- regarding the regulatory status of treated seed,” and Plaintiffs “have not identified any discrete, mandatory duty or action that EPA has failed to perform under [the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)].”
EPA’s main arguments in support of its motion include:
Plaintiffs have not identified any final agency actions. The Inspection Guidance is not an agency action, and even if the Inspection Guidance were an agency action, it is not final.
Count II (Plaintiffs’ allegation of EPA’s failure to regulate and enforce FIFRA with respect to pesticide-treated seeds) must be dismissed because there is no nondiscretionary duty identified by Plaintiffs that is unreasonably delayed or unlawfully withheld.
Enforcement of FIFRA is a discretionary action not subject to review.
In its motion, Defendant-Intervenors argue: “Each of Plaintiffs’ claims constitutes an impermissible programmatic attack on EPA’s existing pesticide regulatory program --specifically, the interplay between EPA’s regulation of pesticides registered to be applied as seed treatments and what Plaintiffs characterize as its categorical application of the treated article exemption to the treated seed. As a result, each of these claims is non-justiciable as a matter of law, entitling Defendants to summary judgment in their favor.” Defendant-Intervenors note that pesticides used for seed treatments are subject to “rigorous, scientifically robust review and approval under FIFRA,” making Plaintiffs’ attempt to impose a regulatory process “entirely duplicative of EPA’s existing exercise of its authority under FIFRA, while having no impact on human health or environmental safety.”
Plaintiffs’ memorandum sets forth its arguments for why the court should “find in favor of Plaintiffs on their four claims for relief: that EPA failed to enforce FIFRA against an entire class of pesticides; that EPA improperly amended the treated article exemption without following proper [Administrative Procedure Act (APA)] rulemaking procedures; that EPA’s exemption of neonicotinoid-coated seeds was ultra vires and/or arbitrary and capricious under the APA; and that EPA’s labeling requirements for unregistered pesticide-coated seed bags was arbitrary and capricious under the APA and FIFRA.” Specifically, Plaintiffs address why they believe EPA has failed to enforce FIFRA against neonicotinoid-coated seeds, why this asserted failure amounts to what they believe is “an unlawful abdication of [EPA’s] statutory responsibilities” and why they believe “EPA’s failure to enforce FIFRA against neonicotinoid-coated seeds and pesticidal dust-off is a ‘consciously and expressly adopted general policy,’ which ‘amounts to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities’ that this Court has the power to remedy.”
A hearing on EPA’s motion was set for October 27, 2016, but due to scheduling conflicts has been rescheduled for November 3, 2016. It will be important to monitor the court’s consideration of these important issues closely.