Environmental groups first asked the Environmental Protection Agency to ban chlorpyrifos back in 2000. Fifteen years later, the EPA agreed to move forward with a ban on the pesticide, which has been linked repeatedly to problems including autism, attention deficit disorders, and developmental delays in children. But the ban hadn't yet taken effect when President Trump was sworn into office, and late last month, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the agency had reversed its decision. The pesticide, patented by Dow Chemical, which has close ties to Trump, would not be banned after all because "thousands of American farms ... rely on" it. Now, three environmental groups are suing, asking a federal appeals court to order the EPA to ban the pesticide, the Intercept reports. "It’s outrageous that the new EPA administrator would reject the scientific findings of its own agency," says an activist and attorney.
The EPA, which spent years reviewing studies on chlorpyrifos before agreeing to the ban, had issued its own assessment of how the chemical affects health; in that report, the agency concluded that some young children are exposed to levels more than 14,000% higher than the limit set by the agency. The EPA concluded there were risks of exposure via drinking water, residue on food, and drift to schools and homes, the Guardian reports. Yet in its reversal, the EPA said more study is needed. Dow, naturally, opposed the ban and had hired a lobbyist to fight it; the Intercept notes that Dow also contributed $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee, and the company's CEO heads Trump's manufacturing council. Four Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have also asked the committee chair to investigate the EPA's reversal and whether intervention from Dow played a role. (Read more pesticide stories.)