Beekeepers, environmentalists and advocacy organizations have filed an action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), claiming that the agency has failed to take any regulatory action on pesticide products containing the active ingredients clothianidin and thiamethoxam in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Administrative Procedure Act. Ellis v. EPA, No. 13-1266 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., filed March 21, 2013).

According to the complaint, “In a vast and extremely risky experiment, EPA has allowed over two million pounds of clothianidin and thiamethoxam to be used annually on more than 100 million acres and on dozens of different plant corps without adhering to existing procedural frameworks and with no adequate risk assessments in place.” The plaintiffs allege that this inaction has “been a major factor in excessive honey bee mortality and the decline of pollinator populations in the same time period.” They contend that beekeepers and honey producers “have suffered, and will continue to suffer, devastating economic hardships unless Defendants take action, which they have refused to do despite repeated formal requests.”

The plaintiffs ask the court, among other matters, to order EPA to (i) “reconsider its final action of July 17, 2012, when Defendants denied an imminent hazard pursuant to the Plaintiffs’ Petition to suspend clothianidin without considering the full information filed by Plaintiffs and without consulting with [the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] under the ESA on whether a hazard was posed to threatened and endangered species and their critical habitats,” (ii) declare that all of these chemicals’ registration and changed use approvals were not published in the Federal Register in violation of FIFRA and vacate them, (iii) declare that all of these chemicals’ conditional and unconditional use approvals violated FIFRA and vacate them, and (iv) order EPA to immediately suspend the registration of clothianidin and thiamethoxam.