This Was Something the Trump Administration* Didn't Consider Part of the Job

Photo credit: Robert Alexander - Getty Images
Photo credit: Robert Alexander - Getty Images

With all the surface noise in the news these days, what’s being missed is that, after four years of having been unstaffed, understaffed, and overstaffed with meatheads, the federal government has gotten back in the business of being a federal government again. From the New York Times:

The Environmental Protection Agency said this week it would publish a regulation to block the use of chlorpyrifos on food. One of the most widely used pesticides, chlorpyrifos is commonly applied to corn, soybeans, apples, broccoli, asparagus and other produce. The new rule, which will take effect in six months, follows an order in April by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that directed the E.P.A. to halt the agricultural use of the chemical unless it could demonstrate its safety.

In an unusual move, the new chlorpyrifos policy will not be put in place via the standard regulatory process, under which the E.P.A. first publishes a draft rule, then takes public comment before publishing a final rule. Rather, in compliance with the court order, which noted that the science linking chlorpyrifos to brain damage is over a decade old, the rule will be published in final form, without a draft or public comment period.

The previous administration* had refused to ban this particular poison despite appeals from all over the environmental and medical communities arguing that chlorpyrifos significantly affected the mental and physical development of infants, even prenatally, and young children. The new regulation came about in this brusque way because a federal court got sick of the pesticide’s defence team’s temporising.

“It is very unusual,” Michal Freedhoff, the E.P.A. assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention, said of the court’s directive. “It speaks to the impatience and the frustration that the courts and environmental groups and farmworkers have with the agency.” “The court basically said, ‘Enough is enough,’” Mr. Freedhoff said. “Either tell us that it’s safe, and show your work, and if you can’t, then revoke all tolerances.”

This is the kind of thing that the previous administration*’s people didn’t consider part of their jobs. Those that actually had jobs, that is. And this, more than anything else, is what will come back if the 2022 midterms go sideways.

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