CATs, EPIC, Humboldt Watershed Council v. EPA (Herbicide Impacts on Endangered Species)
During the 1990s more than 20,000 acres of land were sprayed with toxic herbicides each year in northern California, generally following intensive clear cut logging and burning. These chemicals pose serious risks to many species, including threatened salmon, but the impacts of the herbicides on these endangered species has never been evaluated. Under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was required to consult with federal fish and wildlife agencies before authorizing the use of these chemicals in areas with endangered species, but has never done so.
On August 31, 2000, EPIC, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics and the Humboldt Watershed Council filed suit against the EPA, alleging that EPA’s failure to consult on the impacts of these herbicides is in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit focuses on the effects of Atrazine, Roundup, 2 4-D, Garlon, and other herbicides on threatened fish species and listed plants such as the endangered Western Lily. Many studies show that even small amounts of these chemicals can cause serious problems for humans, as well as fish, wildlife and plants. Concern is heightened because large amounts of diesel fuel are usually mixed with the chemicals before they are applied, resulting in tens of thousands of gallons of diesel being sprayed on North Coast forests each year. Brian Gaffney represented the plaintiffs in this case.