Advocates Sue to Enforce Pesticide Order

The Associated Press
Monday, November 5, 2007; 7:46 PM

-- Salmon advocates filed a lawsuit Monday to force the Bush administration to obey a 5-year-old court order requiring it to make permanent rules to keep agricultural pesticides from killing salmon.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, the lawsuit asks a judge to order NOAA Fisheries, the agency in charge of protecting salmon, to formally consult with the Environmental Protection Agency over the use of 37 pesticides. Several are commonly found in rivers around the country and can kill salmon at minute concentrations.

U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour had ordered the formal consultations in 2002 and imposed temporary restrictions that barred crop-dusting next to salmon streams and required home and garden stores to post warnings for consumers.

"Apparently what it takes to get this administration to do its job under (the Endangered Species Act) is to have someone there enforcing the law every step of the way," said Joshua Osborne-Klein, an attorney for Earthjustice, the environmental public interest law firm representing salmon advocates.

NOAA fisheries spokesman Brian Gorman said the agency has not seen the lawsuit and could not immediately comment.

It was brought by the Northwest Coalition Against Pesticides and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

"This region has devoted far too much time and money to restore imperiled salmon runs to allow (NOAA fisheries) to sit on its hands while pesticides continue to contaminate streams and kill struggling salmon," said Glen Spain of the federation, which represents California commercial salmon fishermen,

For years, federal courts have been finding NOAA Fisheries deficient in its efforts to protect declining salmon runs, particularly the failure to protect salmon from hydroelectric projects on the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Last August, Coughenour chastised federal agencies for failing to follow the Endangered Species Act in licensing pesticides for sale.

© 2007 The Associated Press