Ninth Circuit Orders EPA to Ban Chlorpyrifos Pesticide

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

By a 2-1 vote, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit  ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday to bar within 60 days chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to developmental disabilities in children, and nervous system damage to adults and animals.

Environmental and other public interest groups have sought a ban for more than a decade.  The New York Times reports in Court Orders E.P.A. to Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems:

The product is used in more than 50 fruit, nut, cereal and vegetable crops including apples, almonds, oranges and broccoli, with more than 640,000 acres treated in California alone in 2016, the most recent year data is available.

Dow Chemical Co. created chlorpyrifos in the 1960s. Currently, it’s one of the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States. Each year, Dow AgroSciences sells about 5 million pounds domestically, according to CBS in Appeals court orders EPA to ban sales of widely-used farm pesticide chlorpyrifos.

It’s difficult to avoid exposure to this chemical if you’ve spent significant time in the United States. Over to CBS again:

As a result of its wide use as a pesticide over the past four decades, traces of chlorpyrifos are commonly found in sources of drinking water. A 2012 study at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested from newborn babies contained detectable levels of the pesticide.

Better living through chemistry!

Who Is Rakoff and Why Is He Authoring a Ninth Circuit Opinion?

Judge Jed S. Rakoff wrote the opinion in  Lulac v. Wheeler. The lawsuit was filed last year by environmentalists and farmworkers and joined by attorneys general from seven states, including California, Massachusetts, and New York, and the District of Columbia.

Now, regular readers may recall the name of Judge Rakoff. He’s a securities law expert, and Yves has noted he’s known for his failure to rubber-stamp SEC settlements he didn’t deem fair. (Rakoff has featured in several posts; when  I searched the site, I found  at least a dozen posts. I won’t cite them all here but interested readers can search for Rakoff and generate the same list.)

He also wrote a pointed article in the New York Review of Books in 2016, Why You Won’t Get Your Day in Court, discussing the lack of access for all but the richest Americans to courts (see this post by Yves on that article, Judge Jed Rakoff Throws Down Gauntlet to Judges on Lack of Due Process in America).

The sharp-eyed might wonder why Rakoff, who is a senior federal judge of the southern district of New York– which falls within the Second Circuit– was writing a Ninth Circuit appellate opinion. Answer, he was sitting “by designation.” A statute, specifically 28 U.S. Code § 292 (d), provides for the Chief Justice [of the United States] to designate and assign temporarily a district judge of one circuit for service in another circuit, either in a district court or court of appeals, whereas 28 U.S. Code § 294 (d) grants the Chief Justice similar authority for retired judges; since I believe Rakoff is a senior judge, I’m not sure which provision applies to him.I may appear to be disappearing too far into the weeds here, but before beginning this post, I had never heard of this practice, and I thought that if it’s news to me, it might be likewise to at least some readers.

Decision’s Significance

If you read press coverage, this decision is being touted as a setback to the Trump environmental agenda.

There’s no denying that’s the case– at least for the moment.

Yet part of the reason chlorpyrifos wasn’t banned more than a decade ago is that those in control at the EPA long before Trump took office didn’t actually get around to implementing a ban– although they were aware of the issue and certainly gave it a sustained look see.  In 2007 (no typo), a Petition was filed by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) asking the EPA to  revoke tolerances for the pesticide chlorpyrifos. In plain English,that means, to ban the susbstance from agricultural use (it had already been banned for household use.)

As part of that Petition, PAN and the NRDC:

presented scientific studies showing that children and infants who had been exposed prenatally to low doses of chlorpyrifos suffer harms such as reduced IQ, attention deficit disorders, and delayed motor development, that last into adulthood. (opinion, p. 11)

The Rakoff opinion– linked to above– devotes  several pages to the EPA’s record of delay. In fact, in 2015, the Ninth Circuit described that record as “egregious” (p. 12), and despite the court setting  a deadline,, it was not until November 2015 that the agency issued a proposed rule revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos. Finally, in December 2015, the court got fed up and ordered the EPA to get on with it.

Over to the opinion (p. 13) where Rakoff certainly minces no words:

Yet the EPA still equivocated and delayed. Accordingly, in December 2015, we ordered the EPA “to take final action by December 30, 2016 on its proposed revocation rule.”  In June 2016, the EPA requested a six-month extension to continue scientific analysis, a request we characterized as “another variation on a theme of partial reports, missed deadlines, and vague promises of future action that has been repeated for the past nine years.” We found that a six-month delay was “not justified” in light of the previous time extensions and the EPA’s “continued failure to respond to the pressing health concerns presented by chlorpyrifos,” but granted a three- month extension to March 2017. (citations omitted).

In the meantime, the EPA issued a 2016 Risk Assessment concluding that estimated dietary exposure to chlorpyrifos at existing tolerances exceeded what was acceptable for all population groups analyzed, with the highest risks for young children. The Risk Assessment found that scientific literature “as a whole provides evidence of long-lasting neurodevelopmental disorders” linked to chlorpyrifos exposure, with any remaining scientific uncertainties insufficient to “undermine or reduce the confidence in the findings of the epidemiology studies.” The EPA concluded that its analysis of chlorpyrifos “continues to indicate that the risk from the potential aggregate exposure does not meet the FFDCA safety standard” and that “expected residues of chlorpyrifos on most individual food crops exceed the ‘reasonable certainty of no harm’ safety standard.” Chlorpyrifos; Tolerance Revocations; Notice of Data Availability and Request for Comment, 81 Fed. Reg. 81,049, 81,050 (Nov. 17, 2016).

So, note what happened here. As the Sacramento Bee recognizes in Court bans popular farm pesticide defended by Trump. What it means for farms, workers, kids:

In the late stages of the Obama administration, the EPA was in the process of banning the chemical. Shortly after President Donald Trump took office in 2017, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced he was “reversing the previous administration’s steps” and would allow farmers to keep using chlorpyrifos.

The EPA failed to achieve anything for more than nine years (my emphasis). And then, on November 17 2016– after Trump was elected but before he was inaugurated, the agency finally got ’round to publishing “Chlorpyrifos; Tolerance Revocations; Notice of Data Availability and Request for Comment.” Well, how do we think that  worked out?

Over to the opinion again for more detail on what the EPA did after Trump became President. In April 2017 (opinion p. 14):

Then, in the Order at issue in this case, the EPA reversed its position and denied the 2007 Petition on the merits, leaving chlorpyrifos tolerances in effect. Chlorpyrifos; Order Denying PANNA and NRDC’s Petition To Revoke Tolerances, 82 Fed. Reg. 16,581 (Apr. 5, 2017). The Order did not refute the agency’s previous scientific findings on chlorpyrifos or its conclusion that chlorpyrifos violated the FFDCA safety standard. Instead, the EPA stated that it would not revoke tolerances as “the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved.” Id. at 16,583. The EPA stated that it would not complete “any associated tolerance revocation of chlorpyrifos without first attempting to come to a clearer scientific resolution,” id., and claimed to have “discretion to determine the schedule” for reviewing the existing chlorpyrifos tolerances as long as it completed the chlorpyrifos registration review by FIFRA’s deadline of October 1, 2022, id. at 16,590.

Jerri-Lynn here: Now, If the EPA had acted and imposed a ban anytime after PAN and the NRDC filed their Petition in 2007, damage due to further chlorpyrifos use could have ceased more than a decade ago. Once restrictions were in place, it would have been harder, years later, for the Scott Pruitt EPA that wasn’t yet even a gleam in anyone’s eye to reverse such a policy.  Business decisions and investments would have been made, industry practices would have changed, and it would have been much more difficult for the Trump EPA to reverse a previous policy– not to mention for any such reversal to survive judicial scrutiny.

I have written about how finalising the fiduciary rule– although it wasn’t quite implemented–  have hampered Trump administration efforts to roll it back, as companies had already taken steps and made investments necessary to comply with what had been the expected effective date (see here).

I have also discussed how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s delay in promulgating its mandatory arbitration ban (see here) opened the door to its overturn once Republicans controlled White House and Congress– a similar situation to what has occurred with the chlorpyrifos ban– but the mandatory arbitration ban scuttling will stand.

Inconvenient Truth

That chlorpyrifos still remains in use cannot solely be laid at the feet of Trump’s EPA.

If you read much of the coverage of last week’s decision, however, you’ll find little mention of that inconvenient truth. Oh, it’s mentioned, but in such a way that you need to know what you’re looking for to realize that the EPA had dropped the ball on this, setting the stage for the Trump EPA to act as it did. Where for example, is any mention that the court had to order the EPA “to take final action by December 30, 2016 on its proposed revocation rule.”

To belabor the point, let me quote from that CBS article again– because if you hadn’t read the full excerpt from the opinion I’ve quoted above, I think you would have given more credit to the EPA for prior action under the previous administration than is actually due:

In October 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning the pesticide’s use on food. A risk assessment memo issued by nine EPA scientists concluded: “There is a breadth of information available on the potential adverse neurodevelopmental effects in infants and children as a result of prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos.”

Federal law requires EPA to ensure that pesticides used on food in the United States are safe for human consumption – especially children, who are typically far more sensitive to the negative effects of poisons.

Shortly after his appointment by President Trump in 2017, Pruitt announced he was rever[s]ing the Obama administration effort to ban chlorpyrifos, adopting Dow’s position that the science showing chlorpyrifos is harmful was inconclusive and flawed. (my emphasis)

Final Note

This decision– as welcome on its face as it appears to be– is  by no means final. The EPA could ask for a full hearing by the Ninth Circuit, or could appeal to the United States Supreme Court; under either scenario, the agency could also ask for a delay in implementing the ban the court has ruled must be in place in 60 days. Either the full Ninth Circuit, or the Supreme Court, could reverse this decision. Alternatively, the EPA could also eschew any appeal and comply with the ruling.

Given the magnitude of potential sales at stake, does anyone really think Dow will roll over and accept this decision? I’d be very surprised if it’s not gone into overdrive lobbying mode, and that administration lawyers are not working overtime to determine grounds for an appeal.

Whereas if a ban had been in place well before Trump took office, we wouldn’t now be awaiting his EPA’s decision whether to appeal– and have to factor in the likelihood that this decision survives– before we’ll know, for sure, whether chlorpyrifos is banned, for good, for agricultural uses in the United States.

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  1. Tinky

    The corruption never ends. While of course it isn’t all Trump’s fault, this is from an article in Mother Jones (May 3, 2018):

    In March 2017, the Pruitt EPA reversed a decision by its predecessor to ban an insecticide called chlorpyrifos, despite strong evidence it inhibits kids’ brain development at very low exposure levels. The decision came months after the pesticide’s maker, Dow, donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, and weeks after a private meeting between Pruitt and Dow CEO and Trump booster Andrew Liveris.

  2. Shane Mage

    Another in a long line of examples of Trump’s contempt for the law, , especially environmental law, even in the letter but most egregiously in the spirit. If even one Dem in the House had a modicum of guts that representative, instead of whining Russia Russia Russia and passing in silence over the comparable passive-aggressive actions of Obama, would have offered long before now a resolution of impeachment against Trump for the “High Misdemeanor” of violating his Oath of Office to assure that the laws be “faithfully enforced.” In one word, the charges could be summarized as *ecocide*, and the bill of particulars would include many if not most of his “executive orders” and virtually all the administrative actions taken by his regulatory appointees.

    1. Carolinian

      Guess you didn’t read the above which says that the reason Trump can roll back all these Obama policies is because Obama waited until the last minute to enact them. Therefore if the Dems want to indict or impeach Trump for “ecocide” they will have to name Obama as unindicted co-conspirator. In fact one could posit that Obama’s stealth approach to screwing the environment was far more insidious that the Trump in your face version. And that also goes for the press. They “speak truth to power” only when, it seems, power calls them names.

      1. JTMcPhee

        It wouldn’t matter too much that Obama sat on his manicured hands on this, though that ought to bother ‘liberals.” The president can direct the executive to do all kinds of stuff, and do it “all nice and legal” under our ‘system of ordered laws.” As noted, Obama did a lot of stealthy damage — here, and everywhere.

        I wrote a lengthy piece on administrative law and procedure and how this stuff goes down, based on my 13 years as an enforcement attorney and assistant regional counsel in an EPA regional office. That got eaten by Skynet or something. Conclusion is that even this decision is unlikely to stand long, or result in an actual ban (in the US, lots of other world markets for this sh!t)…

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          You might consider writing in another editor and then pasting in to a comment or even split into two comments. Or the reverse; write it here in a comment and then copy/paste into another buffer before posting. Then, if it goes south, you have a copy (and splitting a lenghty reply into two comments may avoid a weighted length criteria).

          A little messy, granted. I don’t do it anymore and so suffer the occasional (quite rare) loss of a comment. But it is a shame for readers particularly to miss your well informed comment on this subject.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Looks like my comment did appear, eventually. And I do copy most comments into Pages before trying to post them.

    2. ewmayer

      Shane Mage: ‘…would have offered long before now a resolution of impeachment against Trump for the “High Misdemeanor” of violating his Oath of Office to assure that the laws be “faithfully enforced.”’

      LOL, you mean faithfully enforced like Obama et al did with the crooked bank cartels?

  3. Epistrophy

    Another nicely balanced and accurate review by Jerri-Lynn Scofield. This is not a partisan issue. It is a result of the regulatory capture of yet another government agency, as the esteemed Bill Black might say – a process that has been going on probably since the Reagan years.

    1. cojo

      …Since the Reagan years? This has been going on much longer. The lobbying efforts against lead in paints and gasoline left high levels of lead and hence hundred of thousands of children with elevated lead levels for years after many European countries had banned its use. There is also the well documented lobbying of the tobacco industry on physician groups and government which delayed aggressive smoking cessation efforts well after much of the data had established a causal effect.

      1. Epistrophy

        Was thinking only of the EPA which was created by Nixon in 1970. The EPA didn’t really flex its muscles until Three Mile Island in 1979. My thinking was that Reagan’s emphasis on deregulation probably kick-started the process of regulatory capture of that agency, but obviously this is just speculation. It very well could have started under Nixon.

  4. JTMcPhee

    Think this ban order will stick?

    Folks need to start sensing and understanding the basic and fundamental weakness of the regulatory processes and structures under “our system of laws.”

    There’s a massive body of “administrative law,” covering the interface between the civil and criminal legal system with its own sets of corruptions and failures, and the executive-agency processes by which acts of the legislature and executive orders and other sources of policy directives get translated into “regulations.” The processes were initially developed to sort out a lot of competing interests, to on the one hand provide means to regulate and limit mostly corporate evils, and on the other, to keep agencies and their staffs from acting in “arbitrary and capricious” manners. There are millions of pages of regulatory text — the rules themselves, various explanatory documents, proposals for rules, and a host of other kinds of entries in the Federal Register that is always the target for “regulatory reformers” who want to excise only those portions that reduce corporate “freedom of action” and facilitate arbitrary government action that restrains that “freedom.”

    The ways the regulatory process can be gamed are manifold, and the guys and gals that populate K Street and C Street, and all the law firms and propagandists and consultants that circle the Imperial beast, looking for ways to strip wealth off the larger political economy and the MMT coffers, know them all. In the straight regulatory context, regarding cholorpyrifos for example, the statutes require EPA to actually study the health and environmental effects of a pesticide like that, and also nominally impose the duty to conduct studies on the corporations that produce shut like that and “introduce it into commerce” and thus subject it to the always-under-reactionary-attack power of the Commerce Clause of Article I, Section 8 of the also-under-attack Constitution.

    Corporations routinely “fudge” the studies they, per the precautionary principle supposedly enshrined though recently undercut in the various environmental, workplace safety, food and drug and other such general-welfare-protecting laws. The staffs at EPA, and related state agencies that often operate these programs under delegation of federal authority written into the statutes, are not only “only human” and subject to fear of job loss for being too enthusiastic in their work or even just from arbitrary “reductions in force” by the “Administration,” many hope to move on to more lucrative gigs with the corporations they are supposed to regulate (e.g., the investigators who were supposed to look behind Bernie Madoff’s curtains, and didn’t).

    The whole rulemaking process is loaded with ways to delay, both in the initial stages by loading up the administrative record that the agency is required to work from (transparency notion), in serial appeals through the administrative and then judicial processes, and then even after a rule is promulgated and “becomes the law of the land,” by a whole raft of further delaying tactics and regulatory-capture tricks like getting “friendly” regulator upper management and attorneys to write “regulatory interpretive memos” and “guidance documents” and “enforcement policies” and “letter opinions.” These, and a bunch of other stuff that is known collectively as the “hidden law” that the person in the cubicle with the shelf of binders stuffed with such documents has to work with and within if they want to stay employed in their current position or move upward.

    And of course, as has been done by all current administrations (looking of course at the scumbag Obama and his various slicknesses), the capos di tutti capi of the ‘govenment’ can just say Fork You to the other branches and do what pleases their actual constituency. As here. Because Dow, of course, for just one example, sells 50 million pounds of chlorpyrifos a year, at what, about $8 a pound, so that gives them maybe $100 million in profits, which goes to pay a whole lot of hours of attorney and PR and bribery/campaign contributions…

    So the two judges that signed on to that opinion are the kind of active edge, obviously from the history of the underlying regulatory action to enact and enforce a ban on chlorpyrifos which lays out the more visible of the many ways this rulemaking has been hamstrung. And now we will likely see a request for a “rehearing en banc,” and on up to the “business-friendly” Supreme Court.

    So chlorpyrifos is one of the many, many nasties (microplastics in your craft beer, for one) that make lots of profits for lots of corporations, nasties that pollute our water and air and bodies (wait a minute, I said “our” — pretty clearly the “commons” had been enclosed, and does not belong to “us” at all, if it ever did…) And so good luck expecting that it will ever be banned. And if it is, why, how about those Chinese foam-plastic producers who are back to using CFCs that kill the ozone layer that somewhat protects us all from skin cancer and other UV damage? Another banned substance, and cigarettes kill how many, but even when ‘regulated’ by putting warnings on packages and limiting TV advertising (but not “product placement” and the zillion other screens and posters and billboards and clickable), look how globalization and “trade” make it so easy to skirt any efforts at cutting into Holy Profits… And one country can try, and an ISDS crocodile will bite it in the a$$… not allowed to interfere in “anticipated profits,” for Jeebus’ sake…

    These people happily kill us to extract wealth from us, and as with this pesticide, work real hard to bar any regulation that they can’t just ignore — interesting that folks who will happily kill inoffensive “wogs” halfway around the world, won’t use their skills to defend themselves and their families from corporate types who are killing them and the habitability of the only planet we’ve got.

    1. John Zelnicker

      August 12, 2018 at 1:55 pm

      Thank you JT, for this comment.

      We often hear about comment periods for regulations and posting of proposed and final rules in the Federal Register, but the process is a lot more complicated than most people realize, including me. I had no idea about the “hidden law” documents that you mentioned. There are just so many ways that the system can be gamed by the companies that don’t want their profit constrained by regulations.

      Your explanation of the many obstacles to making a regulation the law of the land, regardless of enforcement, is clear and concise. This is valuable information to anyone hoping to have influence on this process.

      It’s a good complement to Jerri-Lynn’s post.

  5. Susan the other

    JLS – “… business decisions and investments would have been made, industry practices changed, and it would have been much much more difficult for the Trump EPA to reverse previous policy…” There should be a law, a new bill from Congress, that prevents all presidents from reversing previous policy because it would then rise to the level of a crime if capricious politics ignored or delayed regulations by recision because it would then be an unauthorized nullification of the law. I can only imagine how absurd the US legal code would be if politics could rescind enforcement of the law. And by the same reasoning there should be a law preventing Congress from stonewalling presidents and the will of the majority by refusing to consider appropriate new laws. For Congress to refuse to cooperate with a president would then be Congress nullifying Congress. As only Congress can do ;-).

    1. JTMcPhee

      There is nothing permanent about ‘the law.” It is a misapprehension to think that regulations and statutes can be somehow ‘made permanent.” The way it works, you ought to know, is that if Congress decides to amend or repeal or enact laws that you don’t like, there’s not a darn thing you or I can do about it. Don’t like the military budget? Don’t like repeal of Glass-Steagall? Don’t like Taft-Hartley? Don’t like the many changes to all the regulations that administrations have done to damage the public good since it was first established that Congress could delegate its power under the Commerce Clause to executive agencies, a central and necessary part of the New Deal for example, now being used to nail down the power of the oligarchy?

      Most of us hoped that Obama would change, would undo, all the sh!t that the Bush League, and other prior admins like Reagan, excreted and piled up. Didn’t happen, did it, despite the vast historic significance of getting a partially black man into the Oval Office? So “we” were hoping that he would use the power he held, along with a majority in Congress, to repeal bad laws and regulations and policies. Congress and the president are intended by the Constitution to be able to enact, AND CHANGE, all those laws. That is not “nullification,” it’s the legislative and regulatory process. And of course the executive branch that runs the enforcement of the laws and refs, has this other unenumerated power called “prosecutorial discretion.” As in ‘don’t jail the Banksters.”

      Well, under our system, where the “Constitution” nominally is the One Ring to Rule Them All, your remedies are limited to such speech as is allowed, such petitioning for redress of grievances as you can do from a “free speech zone,” such impact as you can have on the selection of candidates and eventually ‘voting’ for the politicians of “your choice.”

      Quite a system we got here, no?

  6. VietnamVet

    This is the neo-liberal era. “Greed is good.” This ruling and the jury’s $289 million award against Monsanto are vestiges of the old days before the Reagan Revolution. EPA is hardly pure. It is expressing the nation’s scientific/legal process that has been corrupted by money. Business fines but no jail time for CEOs. This is across the board from healthcare to the endless wars. The easy decisions to ban pesticides were made. That this process took decades and was scuttled by Scott Pruitt shows that the chemical industry and industrial farmers have no alternatives to replace chlorpyriphos that doesn’t cost money.

    The question is how to restore a government that cares for its people without destroying everything.

    1. JTMcPhee

      There are non-chemical alternatives, not only to chlorpyrifos but most other agricultural chemicals. But turning to those would cut the Monsanto Dow Bayer etc. leeches off the food growing body. One little link from the many articles on the particular subject:

      Alternatives to Chlorpyrifos

      A search on “non-chemical alternatives to chlorpyrifos” will show you a bunch more. But again, these require a culture change, and most “faremes” are actually supranational corporations like Carroll and ADM. Who are just fine with loading the food chain and food supply with toxins if they can make or save a buck doing the full-chemical thing.

      And thanks in large part to the prolonged efforts of a former colleague who retired from EPA and lives now in Hawaii, and over some pretty evil and corrupt political plays by the “pesticide lobbyists,” and their corporate masters the use of chlorpyrifos is now mostly banned there:

      So it can happen.

  7. drumlin woodchuckles

    This all goes to show why Certified Organic food is getting more popular with dietary-poison-avoiders. For the purposes of this discussion I am taking it on faith that Certified Organic does indeed mean grown without Chlorpyrifos or other non-permitted chemical inputs/ onputs. That of course only goes for Certified Organic from trustworthy countries. Certified Organic means nothing coming from China. There may be other countries from which Certified Organic means nothing as well.

    The only other way you can get food without Chlorpyrifos is to either study the subject real hard and buy foods which are intrinsically grown without Chlorpyrifos anyway ( if there are any). The only other way you can get food without various poisons in it of that sort in general . . . is to grow it yourself.

    1. JTMcPhee

      But you better go the next step and have the soil you will be growing your food in tested by GC-mass spectrometry and flame ionization, to make sure it does not contain any of those nasty chemicals, most of which are “bioavailable” and tend to concentrate in little soil critters and plants grown in that soil, and thence in our bodies.

      And you ought to be aware that, like the behaviors that have brought us global warming, the industrialization and globalization and commodification and crapification of thee planet, these same behaviors have made a whole bunch of nasties, from heavy metals (not the music kind) to chlorinated organics, like PCBs and dioxins and estrogen-mimicking substances and dry cleaning chemicals, and to organophosphate like chlorpyrifos, pretty much ubiquitous and endemic in soils and water everywhere.

      We are left to do the best we can with whatever remains… While the corporatists keep adding more sh!t to the biosphere, and avoiding all externalities, and getting away with murder, in their bespoke suits and hand-tools shoes and $20,000 timepieces…

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Yes, that is so. If I were ever in a position to buy a yard with a house on it, I would see whether I- a mere-citizen- can get this test to see what-all is or isn’t in the soil. Since I live in a co-op now, I don’t feel motivated to get this test done on the soil in my micro-yard, though perhaps I should.

        For those who cannot get ( or do not know about) such a test before they start developing their yard for self-growing some food, there is some comfort to be taken in this: that even though there may be legacy chemicals in the soil they grow in, they are not using such things themself and thereby not adding further to the ingested load.

        I suspect the biggest problem of legacy load of agri-chemicals specifically would be present either in or near farmland which was lucrative enough that the farmers would spend the money to buy these things. Or also on suburban yards which were lived in/or by eco-insensitive louts who used the suburban version of these things for years or for decades.

        Perhaps one just does what one reasonably can and gives up on even worrying about the further things one cannot do something about.

        About heavy metals in particular, I believe a lot of them are bio-accumulated by certain metal-uptaking plants like Jimson Weed, Sunflower, and some others. So if I wanted to bio-remediate a potentially gardenable yard on a just-in-case basis, I would get it strongly bio-fertilized and bio-active and then grow several years worth of Jimson Weeds, Sunflowers, and etc. on it. I would then harvest and dry the metal-accumulator plants and burn them down to ash wherein the heavy metals would reside. Eventually when I felt I had sucked up all the heavy metals I reasonably could, I would make a big concrete monument-object with all the poison ash placed in the center of it. That would at least keep it harmless for a while.

  8. John Zelnicker

    This is a much needed post, Jerri-Lynn, thank you.

    The mainstream media doesn’t seem to want to dig into the entire history of many current issues that affect our health and well-being, some going back decades. Only the past couple of years are deemed to be important. If Obama can be shown in a good light while casting Trump as the bad guy, well then, so much the better.

    I sure hope the decision will be upheld, but I’m not optimistic with the current make-up of the Supreme Court and the power of a company like Dow Chemical.

    (OT, Dow is one of the biggest funders of opposition groups against marijuana legalization efforts, including, especially, industrial hemp, since cannabis seed oils can substitute for many of the petroleum products that Dow uses to make plastics and other products.)

    Please keep posting these analyses of legal issues that affect all of us. Your expertise is different than Yves and other posters here at NC and you explain complicated legal issues in a way that is easy to understand. In addition, we know that many influential people read NC and they need to see analysis that they can’t find in the mainstream media. Hopefully, action will result some day.

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