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Environmental Defense Fund v. Environmental Protection Agency

548 F.2d 998 (1976)

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Environmental Defense Fund v. Environmental Protection Agency

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

548 F.2d 998 (1976)

Facts

If a pesticide posed a danger to human health or the environment, its registration under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) could be canceled. The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (defendant) had the authority to suspend a pesticide’s FIFRA registration until a final cancelation determination was made if the pesticide posed an “imminent hazard.” The administrator of the EPA ordered the suspension of the pesticides heptachlor and chlordane, but the order allowed some limited uses and existing stocks to be sold. Before the order was issued, a cancelation hearing was held, and the administrative-law judge recommended against the suspension, holding that the evidence did not conclusively show that the pesticides were carcinogenic in laboratory animals. The administrator issued the order suspending the pesticides regardless, relying on evidence that showed cellular changes in lab animals and extrapolated those findings to humans. In addition, the administrator found that alternate methods of protecting the crops existed so that suspension of these pesticides would not cause unreasonable economic harm. The administrator did not make any findings as to the amount of the existing stock or what would be required to collect and return that stock rather than allowing it to be sold. The secretary of agriculture and the Velsicol Chemical Corporation (plaintiffs) filed a petition for review asking that the EPA’s order be set aside on the grounds that the evidence did not support a finding that the pesticides posed an imminent hazard to human health. The Environmental Defense Fund (plaintiff) also filed a petition challenging the EPA’s order, in which it opposed the continued sale of existing stock and the continued limited uses. The court reviewed these challenges to the administrator’s order of suspension.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leventhal, J.)

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