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U.S. EPA releases draft biological evaluation of cyantraniliprole’s effects on endangered speciesqrcode

Feb. 2, 2023

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Feb. 2, 2023

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its draft biological evaluation (BE) that contains EPA’s analysis of the potential effects of the insecticide cyantraniliprole on federally listed endangered and threatened (listed) species and designated critical habitats. The draft BE will be available for public comment for 60 days.

Background on Cyantraniliprole

Cyantraniliprole can be used as a foliar spray or soil application on a variety of agricultural crops and as a seed treatment on some agricultural crops. It is also registered for non-agricultural uses, including on turf and ornamental plants.

After EPA registered products containing cyantraniliprole in 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety filed a petition for review in the D.C. Circuit, alleging that EPA had not met its Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation obligations before registering products containing cyantraniliprole. In 2017, the D.C. Circuit agreed and remanded the registrations without vacating them for EPA to complete effects determinations and any necessary consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services).

In November 2022, the court ordered EPA to complete cyantraniliprole’s effects determination by September 2023. The draft BE released today is an important step toward complying with the court’s order and better protecting listed species.

Draft Biological Evaluation

EPA’s draft BE finds that cyantraniliprole is ″likely to adversely affect″ (LAA) certain listed species and designated critical habitats. An LAA determination means that EPA reasonably expects that at least one individual animal or plant, among a variety of listed species, may be exposed to cyantraniliprole at a sufficient level to have an adverse effect. This is the case even if a listed species is almost recovered to a point where it may no longer need to be listed. The draft BE also includes additional analyses and a discussion of potential mitigation measures to protect listed species as part of EPA’s efforts to meet its obligations under the ESA, furthering the goals outlined in EPA’s April 2022 ESA Workplan.

In this draft BE, EPA refined its analysis to predict the likelihood that cyantraniliprole use could result in ″jeopardy″ (i.e., potential impacts to the survival of listed species) for any listed species or ″adverse modification″ of any designated critical habitats. In contrast to its LAA determinations, EPA’s draft likelihood of jeopardy and adverse modification predictions examine effects of cyantraniliprole at the species scale (population as opposed to an individual of a species). EPA predicts that approved uses of cyantraniliprole could result in future jeopardy or adverse modification findings for a small percentage of listed species and critical habitats. While EPA has made predictions about the likelihood of jeopardy and adverse modification as part of its effects determinations consistent with 50 CFR 402.40(b)(1), the Services are responsible for making the actual jeopardy/adverse modification findings and have the sole authority to do so.

As part of its assessment, EPA evaluated the effects of cyantraniliprole on over 1,700 listed species and over 800 designated critical habitats in the United States and its territories and determined that cyantraniliprole, without further mitigation:

  • Will cause no effect to 25 percent of listed species and 33 percent of critical habitats.

  • May affect but is not likely to adversely affect 34 percent of listed species and 54 percent of critical habitats.

  • Is likely to adversely affect and EPA predicts the likelihood that use will not cause jeopardy to 37 percent of listed species or adversely modify 12 percent of critical habitats.

  • Is likely to adversely affect and EPA predicts the likelihood that use may cause jeopardy to 4 percent of listed species and adversely modify 1 percent of critical habitats.

To help protect listed species, EPA has identified several mitigation measures that could reduce spray drift from agricultural areas and runoff into water bodies. EPA expects that these measures, if adopted, would reduce effects on listed species such that EPA would not predict a likelihood of jeopardy for any listed species, including mammals, invertebrates, and species that rely on invertebrates, or adverse modification to any critical habitats in the final BE. EPA also identified mitigation measures to reduce ″take″ of listed species.

In 2022, the cyantraniliprole registrants submitted letters to EPA committing to initial measures that registrants will include on pesticide labels to reduce potential spray drift as well as some measures to reduce listed species exposure to cyantraniliprole-treated seeds. In 2023, the registrants agreed to submit labels with additional mitigations that address the findings in the draft BE for EPA’s review and consideration in the final BE.  EPA encourages the public to comment on the BE, on the registrants’ commitments, and to suggest any other mitigation measures that may be appropriate.

After considering the public comments on the draft BE and any additional mitigations that are agreed upon with the cyantraniliprole registrants, EPA will make appropriate changes, issue a final BE, and initiate formal consultation. During formal consultation, the Services use EPA’s effects determinations to inform their biological opinions, which will include the final determinations of whether a pesticide jeopardizes listed species and/or adversely modifies critical habitats. Through formal consultation, the Service(s), EPA, the cyantraniliprole registrants, and other stakeholders may develop additional mitigation measures to protect listed species and critical habitats.

The draft BE will be available for public comment for 60 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0668.

Source: U.S. EPA


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