Methyl Iodide Plaintiffs Say Registration Process Was a Joke
December 21, 2011
The registration of methyl iodide in California "makes a mockery of the process entrusted by the people of California to ensure that pesticides are regulated appropriately to protect human health," according a reply filed in Alameda County Superior Court Wednesday.
The plaintiffs, California Rural Legal Assistance and EarthJustice, filed their response to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and Arysta LifeScience's filings last month that argued the approval of the fumigant in California was within rules and well-founded in a scientific basis.
CRLA and EarthJustice dismiss the economic basis for approving methyl iodide, which the defendants argued is not optional, but part of their mandate. "The need to phase out methyl bromide—however important—does not entitle DPR to put lives at risk or ignore laws enacted to protect human health," they write.
Plaintiffs also say the U.S. EPA's approval of methyl iodide, which Arysta touted in its response not only for a regulatory nod but also for earning the agency's Ozone Layer Protection Award, is irrelevant because the case at hand concerns compliance only with California's unique pesticide registration process. "DPR's role is not merely to rubber stamp pesticides already registered by U.S. EPA," according to the brief.
As in their opening brief, plaintiffs say DPR did not exhaustively research alternatives to registering methyl iodide, and suggest that a conditional approval—based on measured real-world effects on groundwater—would have been appropriate under the California Environmental Quality Act.
They also take issue with DPR's characterization of iodide as a naturally occurring substance (which it is) because, as they note, many such substances, like lead and arsenic, are highly toxic and heavily regulated.
There's also some fun with arithmetic: DPR's response brief, filed by the Attorney General's office, explained former Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam's adjustment to a factor scientists use to transfer the measured health effects on lab animals to probable human impact from three to one. "Of course, any number divided by one is unchanged," plaintiffs write, "thus reducing the...factor from three to one is no different than eliminating the factor entirely."
The legal back-and-forth will have its day in court Jan. 12, when Judge Frank Roesch is scheduled to hear the case in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland.