by Todd Neely, DTN Staff Reporter
OMAHA (DTN) — The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental and agriculture groups continue to hold settlement talks in a lawsuit against EPA that could affect some 30,000 agriculture chemicals-species combinations.
Center for Biological Diversity lead attorney Justin Augustine, however, told DTN it is still unclear whether a settlement can be reached.
“We are still in discussions with EPA and intervenors and it is still up in the air whether this case will settle or not,” Augustine said. “Unfortunately, I am not allowed to discuss any of the details of the settlement process. All I can say is that we are still trying to find common ground.”
On Jan. 20, the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups filed a suit that alleged EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by not consulting federal wildlife officials about the potential effects that some 300 registered pesticides and other agricultural chemicals would have on about 200 species, before approving the use of those chemicals.
In a status report filed with the U.S. District Court for Northern California Friday, CBD and the other parties asked for a 30-day extension of an upcoming Oct. 14 deadline to Nov. 18. Crop Life America, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Chemistry Council are approved intervenors in the case. In August the court granted a 60-day extension.
Ag groups and other interveners have expressed concern that if the case is allowed to move forward without their input, many agricultural chemicals could be removed from the market while EPA is required to reconsider their effects on endangered species.
Crop Life America has said the potentially affected species are located in agricultural areas in every state except for Alaska, and initial estimates are that as many as 30,000 product-species combinations would be evaluated if the lawsuit is successful.
According to the latest request for an extension, the parties held meetings by phone on Aug. 23 and Sept. 21.
“Plaintiffs and defendants are pursuing further settlement discussions and are in the process of arranging the next meeting,” according to the extension request. “Based on the discussions to date, intervenors do not object to further settlement talks, provided all parties continue to be involved.”
On June 3, 2011, the court held an intervention hearing and granted in part and denied in part motions from Crop Life, American Farm Bureau Federation and American Chemistry Council. In its earlier motion to intervene, Crop Life, which represents the crop chemical industry, said it believed its interests would not be represented in the settlement negotiations.
On June 21 all parties met in Washington, D.C., and discussed the possibility of settlement. According to court records an additional meeting was held by phone on July 18.
As of Monday morning the court had not rendered a decision on the latest request for more time.
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Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp