LIHUE — In the midst of lawsuits aiming to get a chlorpyrifos ban out of the Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 15 U.S. senators have signed a letter asking for the same thing.
This week, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and 13 of their U.S. Senate colleagues sent a letter to EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler asking EPA to reverse the decision and ban chlorpyrifos.
The pesticide has been linked to brain damage in children and studies have shown it can cause harm to health in adults as well.
EPA announced in July that it would not ban the widely used pesticide and said in a statement it was because the data used to support enacting a ban was “not sufficiently valid, complete or reliable.”
The announcement was prompted by a court deadline and the agency is continuing to monitor the safety of the chemical through 2022.
Though his name wasn’t on the letter, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) has sponsored bills aimed at a nationwide ban of chlorpyrifos, as has U.S. representative and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
This week’s letter from the senators accuses EPA of avoiding its own responsibilities and ignoring public input. It also states EPA’s own data was strong enough to enact a ban.
Senators cite the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, which directs EPA to ensure with “reasonable certainty” that “no harm” will result from food, drinking water, or other exposures to pesticide.
“There is no dispute that the EPA has not been able to make this safety finding. In fact, the EPA has repeatedly found that chlorpyrifos harms children’s brains at exposures far lower than what the EPA allows,” senators state in their letter.
Meanwhile, the list of states moving to circumvent the federal conversation and ban chlorpyrifos themselves is growing. Hawaii was the first to sign a ban into law in 2018 with the ban taking full effect in 2020.