A popular insecticide that was recommended by the EPA under the Obama Administration to be permanently banned at farms across the country has been given the go-ahead by current EPA chief Scott Pruitt, a permission that will remain in place until 2024 at the earliest.

Siding with the producer, Dow Chemical, and against his own scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, Pruitt continued a trend of anti-science leadership by ruling in favor of an insecticide that has been linked to memory loss.  

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Pruitt said he felt the EPA needed to study the science more before banning the chemical, criticizing the previous administration’s apparent over-eagerness to ban without proof.

“We need to provide regulatory certainty to the thousands of American farms that rely on chlorpyrifos, while still protecting human health and the environment. By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making — rather than predetermined results.”

Because Pruitt has rejected the proposed ban, Chlorpyrifos will continued to be used on commercial farms across the country until 2024, when the EPA is required to review the safety of the pesticide again. That means eight more years of exposure to the American people by an insecticide that has a proven record of being harmful.

A former high-level official at the EPA Jim Jones said that Pruitt is ignoring “solid science.”

Chlorpyrifos has already been banned for use in American households, but scientists were pushing for the product to be banned at farms as well as it has been linked to significant harm caused to farm workers and children when exposed through drinking water and other sources.

The insecticide which has been used since 1965 was banned for home use in 2000, and continues to be used on approximately 40,000 farms throughout the U.S.

Though Pruitt calls for continued research and absolute proof regarding the chemical, the EPA has already jumped through extensive hoops to certify the link between Chlorpyrifos.

From the New York Times:

“Late last year, … E.P.A. scientists concluded that exposure to the chemical … was potentially causing significant health consequences. They included learning and memory declines, particularly among farm workers and young children who may be exposed through drinking water and other sources.

An E.P.A. scientific review panel made up of academic experts last July also had raised questions about some of the conclusions the chemical safety staff had reached. That led the staff to revise the way it had justified its findings of harm, although the agency employees as of late last year still concluded that the chemical should be banned.”

It is clear that Pruitt, head of the EPA, has no intention of relying on the expertise in the department he is heading. It is likely that Pruitt is serving in the same way SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch’s mother did when she served as the head of the same agency: as a poison pill.

This decision, along with Pruitt’s ignorant statements about the impact of Carbon Dioxide on global warming, help to weaken the Environmental agency and push back against all advancements we have made as a nation to improve our planet, protect its people, and slow climate change.

Sydney Robinson is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. She has also appeared in political news videos for Ring of Fire. Sydney has a degree in English Literature from the University of West Florida, and has an active interest in politics, social justice, and environmental issues. She would love to hear from you on Twitter @SydneyMkay or via email at srobinson@ringoffireradio.com