EPA’s Pruitt Gives Public Only Until Friday to Tell Him ‘No’
EPA chief Scott Pruitt is helping chemical companies poison adults and children who apply pesticides so dangerous they aren’t sold to the general public.
Pruitt posted a proposed regulatory change on Monday, giving people concerned about the dangers of these chemicals just four more days, until Friday, to speak up. Otherwise, tougher regulations approved under former President Barack Obama that are supposed to go into effect on Monday will be shelved for at least another year. Pruitt has already stalled the regulations twice.
The timing is preposterous, says Virginia Ruiz, the director of occupational and environmental health for Farmworker Justice. The regulations for people who apply restricted-use pesticides are 40 years old and have never been revised.
“I think the EPA has already made up its mind up, and this is a way to make it look like they are complying with administrative procedures,” Ruiz said.
The new regulations, which apply to about 5% of the pesticides registered by the EPA, are estimated to prevent up to almost 1,000 acute illnesses a year. These pesticides are linked to illnesses such as prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and asthma.
Pruitt said delaying the regulations another year will help “achieve both environmental protection and economic prosperity.”
The regulations include prohibiting people who are illiterate from being certified to apply the most toxic pesticides, requiring workers to be able to immediately contact a supervisor and requiring dealers to keep sales records of dangerous pesticides. The regulations would also require anyone using these pesticides to be at least 18 except on farms where a 16-year-old could apply the pesticides under the supervision of a relative in the teen’s immediate family.
Ruiz said many of the farmworkers who would be affected by the regulations are immigrants who can’t read pesticide labels in English.
“It’s really important for them to receive information and training about what they are doing,” she said.
The regulations would give states three years to submit updated plans to the EPA for approving people to apply toxic pesticides.
Pruitt is establishing a track record as EPA administrator for favoring chemical company profits over the safety of farmworkers. He overruled the agency’s own scientists to keep the pesticide chlorpyrifos on the market despite evidence that it lowers children’s IQs.