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Federal appeals court upholds EPA pesticide rule despite treaty

[JURIST] A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld [opinion, PDF] a pesticide rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website], saying that the regulation does not violate the Clean Air Act [EPA materials] even though it may conflict with an international environmental treaty signed by the US. In December 2004, the EPA issued a rule [PDF text] identifying the once-popular pesticide methyl bromide [EPA backgrounder] as falling under the "critical use" exemption from the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer [PDF text; JURIST report], an environmental treaty signed by the US that phases out the use of methyl bromide by 2005. The National Resources Defense Council [advocacy website] sued, arguing that the "EPA has permitted too much new production and consumption of methyl bromide, which will result in more emissions, which will increase ozone depletion, which will adversely affect the health of NRDC's members," and that the EPA rule is in direct conflict with the Montreal Protocol. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled [PDF text] that the EPA was not bound by "postratification side agreements" reached at the Montreal Protocol because these agreements "are not 'law' within the meaning of the Clean Air Act and are not enforceable in federal court."

Chemical manufacturers hailed the decision as beneficial to farmers who are struggling to phase out use of the pesticide. Reuters has more.

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