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Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 14, 2015

Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and Defenders of Wildlife, Plaintiffs,
v.
United States Environmental Protection Agency, Defendant, and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Syngenta Crop Protection LLC, and CropLife America, Intervenor-Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GLADYS KESSLER, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and Defenders of Wildlife ("Plaintiffs") bring this action against Defendant United States Environmental Protection Agency ("Defendant, " "the Government, " "the Agency, " or "EPA"). Intervenor-Defendants E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, Syngenta Crop Protection LLC, and CropLife America ("Intervenor-Defendants") joined this action with the Court's permission.

This matter is presently before the Court on the Government's Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction [Dkt. No. 31] and Intervenor-Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Dkt. No. 41], which requests dismissal on similar grounds.

On September 19, 2014, the Government filed its Motion [Dkt. No. 31], and on October 15, 2014, Intervenor-Defendants filed their Motion [Dkt. No. 41]. On November 17, 2014, Plaintiffs filed their combined Opposition to both Motions [Dkt. No. 43]. On December 10, 2014, the Government and Intervenor-Defendants both filed their Replies [Dkt. Nos. 44 & 45]. Upon consideration of the Motions, Opposition, Replies, and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss shall be granted, Intervenor-Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings shall be denied as moot, and Plaintiffs' Complaint shall be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Statutory Framework

1. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act ("FIFRA"), 7 U.S.C. § 136-136y, protects the environment from "unreasonable adverse effects" arising from the use of pesticides, Id . § 136a(a). Under FIFRA, "no person... may distribute or sell... any pesticide that is not registered [with EPA]." Id . EPA will "register" a pesticide if

(A) its composition is such as to warrant the proposed claims for it;
(B) its labeling and other material required to be submitted comply with the requirements of this subchapter;
(C) it will perform its intended function without unreasonable adverse effects on the environment; and
(D) when used in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice it will not generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment. Id . § 136a(c)(5).

Before registering a pesticide containing "any new active ingredient[, ]" EPA must provide the public with notice and the opportunity to comment on "each application for registration[.]" Id . § 136a(c) (4). EPA's registration of a pesticide constitutes an Order within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") and FIFRA. See Env't Def. Fund, Inc. v. Costle, 631 F.2d 922, 926 (D.C. Cir. 1980); United Farm Workers of Am., AFL-CIO v. Adm'r, E.P.A., 592 F.3d 1080, 1082-83 (9th Cir. 2010). Manufacturers may only distribute registered pesticides in a manner consistent with the registration order's packaging, labeling, and composition requirements. 7 U.S.C. § 136j; 69 Fed. Reg. 47732, 47733 (Aug. 5, 2004).

FIFRA divides judicial review between the District Courts and the Courts of Appeals. The appropriate forum depends, in part, upon whether EPA conducted a "public hearing" before issuing the relevant order. 7 U.S.C. § 136n(a)&(b). Generally, "the refusal of [EPA] to cancel or suspend a registration or to change a classification not following a hearing and other final actions... not committed to the discretion of [EPA] by law are judicially reviewable by the [D]istrict [C]ourts of the United States." 7 U.S.C. § 136n(a) (emphasis added).

"In the case of actual controversy as to the validity of any order issued by [EPA] following a public hearing, any person who will be adversely affected by such order and who had been a party to the proceedings may obtain judicial review... in the United States [C]ourt of [A]ppeals." Id. at § 136n(b) (emphasis added). A petition for review before the Court of Appeals must be filed "within 60 days after the entry of such order[.]" Id . "Upon the filing of such petition the [C]ourt [of Appeals] shall have exclusive jurisdiction to set aside the order complained of in whole or in part." Id.

2. Endangered Species Act

The Supreme Court has called the Endangered Species Act ("ESA") "the most comprehensive legislation for the preservation of endangered species ever enacted by any nation." Babbit v. Sweet Home Chapter of Cmtys. for a Great Oregon, 515 U.S. 687, 698 (1995) (quoting Tennessee Valley Auth. v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 180 (1978)). The Act aims to conserve endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems on which they depend. 16 U.S.C. § 1531(b). Section 7(a) (1) of the ESA obligates federal agencies to "insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by such agency... is not likely to jeopardize the ...


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