More Time Requested for Review of EPA’s Vulnerable Species Pilot Program

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Regulation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft white paper in support of its Vulnerable Species Pilot program. EPA identified mitigation measures for 27 species that are considered vulnerable to pesticide exposure. The comment period for the proposal closed on August 6. One of the concerns shared by several industry stakeholders was the lack of time available to submit feedback.

Vulnerable Species Pilot

CropLife America noted that the comment period did not provide “sufficient opportunity to review the draft guidance, solicit input from its members, and develop constructive comments.” The American Soybean Association (ASA) also asked for additional time to provide feedback. “This 152-page proposal is one that requires significant consideration to provide meaningful feedback to the agency,” ASA explained.

“The extent of acreage designated as avoidance area, and the numbers of affected industries and individuals, it is critical that those affected by this proposal have the opportunity to assess and comment on the proposal,” the Oregon Department of Agriculture explained in its comments. “The current timeline does not provide sufficient opportunity for meaningful engagement from a significant segment of the affected individuals and industries.”

California Citrus Mutual (CCM) also raised concerns with the Vulnerable Species Pilot program. However, these concerns were related to HLB mitigation and other potential threats from invasive species. CCM is encouraging EPA to consult state agencies to “ensure that existing mitigation practices are considered with respect to the impacts of invasive pest pressures.”

The species identified as being vulnerable in California are the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew, the Palmate-bracted bird’s beak, and two vernal pool fairy shrimp. Altogether, approximately two million acres in California stand to be greatly impacted by the habitat Pesticide Use Limitation Areas put forth in the proposal.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West