SEATTLE, Washington, May 20, 2004 (ENS): A federal district
court in Seattle has denied a motion to suspend its
January 2004 injunction prohibiting the spraying of
certain pesticides near salmon streams. The pesticide
industry association CropLife and grower groups had
requested a stay that would allow presticide applications
while they appeal the district court's ruling to the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The January injunction put in place no-spray zones
of 100 yards for aerial applications and 20 yards for
ground applications of more than 30 pesticides. The
injunction also required in-store warnings to inform
consumers that seven pesticides used in urban areas
may harm salmon.
Chief Judge John Coughenour of the U.S. District Court
for the Western District of Washington issued a strongly
worded opinion Wednesday denying the industry request
for a stay and underlining the need for the injunction’s
protections for threatened and endangered salmon.
His order states, "in enacting the ESA [Endangered
Species Act], Congress expressly preferred the preservation
of endangered species, deprived of the ability to protect
themselves against the perpetual technological crusade
of ever-expanding humankind, over the preservation of
chemicals that have the potential to make extinction
of these species imminent."
Judge Coughenour also blamed the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) for its lack of compliance with
the law that made the injunction necessary, and for
its poor communication to pesticide users about the
The judge wrote, "if EPA had expended as much
effort in compliance with the ESA as it has expended
in resisting this action, the lawsuit might have been
"The Court again emphasizes that because the January
22, 2004 Order enjoined EPA from authorizing the unrestricted
application of certain pesticide active ingredients,
it is EPA's duty to provide individual pesticide users
with comprehensive instructions as to the Order's scope,"
the judge directed.
The injunction was issued as a result of a lawsuit
filed by the Washington Toxics Coalition, Northwest
Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, and Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, with representation
by Earthjustice. The EPA and pesticide companies appealed
the ruling to the Ninth Circuit, but the injunction
will now stay in place throughout the appeals process.
The fishing and environmental groups that won the injunction
were relieved. "Judge Coughenour made a very common
sense decision to deny the stay. These are not 'harmless'
compounds’ as the chemical industry claimed, but
highly toxic poisons that have no business in our waterways
and salmon spawning beds," said Glen Spain of Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations (PCFFA),
one of the plaintiff groups, representing the commercial
"All the judge's original order ever did was to
help keep these chemicals out of waterways and where
they belong. Farmers have plenty of alternatives to
dumping toxic chemicals into rivers and killing fish."
Patti Goldman of Earthjustice represented the groups.
"Big chemical companies said the sky was falling
back in the days when DDT was banned to save bald eagles.
Everyone knows they were wrong then and they're wrong
now when they say the sky is falling because their chemicals
need to be applied more carefully to avoid killing salmon."
The January injunction followed Judge Coughenour's
2002 decision that found the EPA out of compliance with
the Endangered Species Act for failing to protect salmon
from pesticides. The judge ordered the EPA to consult
with NOAA Fisheries to establish permanent restrictions
needed to protect salmon from 54 pesticides, over a
two and a half year timeline.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All Rights