Athens, Ga. -- The Grassroots Recycling Network, a national coalition of waste reduction activists and professionals promoting producer responsibility and a sustainable society, has accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., of giving into pressure from Dow Chemical Co. because the agency shorted the public comment period on the restricted use of the herbicide clopyralid.
Although clopyralid was approved by the EPA in 1987 and is sold in 50 states, it is said to threaten the composting industry because it is toxic to some garden plants, such as tomato plants. Earlier this year, Washington state banned the use of the herbicide on residential and commercial lawns and turf to prevent contaminating compost. The California legislature also imposed an emergency temporary ban on the herbicide. And in summer 2002, the EPA subsequently allowed for six-months of public comment on its proposal to restrict the use of the chemical. Specifically, Dow proposed restricting the product to only approved residential turf uses, and proposed adding a label to the product cautioning commercial users not to apply the herbicide on turf that could be composted. Critics argue, however, that clopyralid should be banned entirely.
Dow Agrosciences, the subsidiary of Dow Chemical that produces clopyralid, asked the EPA to shorten the public comment period because the issue is controversial, according to the EPA. And on Sept. 20, the EPA issued a correction in the Federal Register shortening the public comment period to 30 days, ending Sept. 27, 2002.
"To virtually exlude the opportunity for meaningful public engagement on this issue is shocking," said GRRN's Executive Director Bill Sheehan. "Dow's toxic products not only kill weeds, they are killing financially successful compost programs that keep thousands of tons of organic material out of landfills."
The EPA maintains that if a company requests a shorter comment period, it can grant the request. Comments on the clopyralid regulations are being accepted until the end of today. Send comments to James A. Hollins, Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460. E-mail: [email protected].
Meantime, California continues to debate legislation that would make its emergency clopyralid ban permanent.