On August 10, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a very rare Writ of Mandamus, directing the EPA to issue a “full and final response” by October 31, 2015 to a pesticide regulatory petition filed several years ago by the Pesticide Action Network North America.  The case is In re Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. EPA.

At issue is the continuing use of a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in agricultural areas; its use in residential areas was banned in 2000. According to the Court of Appeals , the plaintiff’s administrative petition was filed eight years ago, and EPA has been unable to provide the Court of Appeals with any firm date by which this petition will be decided.

As the Court of Appeals states in the prologue to its ruling, “Although filibustering may be a venerable tradition in the United States Senate, it is frowned upon in administrative agencies tasked with protecting human health.  Pesticide Action Network and the NRDC have been waiting for years for the US Environmental Protection Agency to respond to their petition requesting  a ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Instead they’ve received a litany of partial status reports, missed deadlines, and vague promises of future action. This delay is egregious and warrants mandamus relief”.