Why did Scott Pruitt refuse to ban a chemical that the EPA itself said is dangerous?
The petitioners, Pesticide Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council, cited studies show that Chlorpyrifos can have serious health consequences, such as damaging the nervous system of infants and children.
What is Chlorpyrifos?
This is why in 2007, environmental groups petitioned the EPA to ban its use in agricultural use as well.
The EPA denied the petition to ban Chlorpyrifos.
As Pruitt noted: “we need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on Chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment … By reversing the previous Administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.” While Pruitt emphasized “sound science,” the EPA’s own internal research notes the harmful effect of this pesticide.
As much scholarship has found, poor and marginalized communities tend to be disproportionately exposed to pollution.
Consequently, they have less political power and this means that firms and the EPA may be less attentive to the harmful consequences of pesticide use on their health.
Less visible environmental problems tend to receive less attention from companies and regulators.
The slow effort to remove lead from drinking water is a case in point.
Aseem Prakash is professor of political science, the Walker Family Professor and the founding director of the Center for Environmental Politics at the University of Washington.