NRDC v. E. Scott Pruitt et al. (Neonic Pesticides)

The endangered black-capped vireo, which is at risk from neonic pesticides

Alan Schmierer/Flickr

In the past 25 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved thousands of neonicotinoid, or neonic, pesticides, a class of widely applied, neurotoxic insecticides. A massive body of evidence shows that neonics are a leading cause of bee die-offs seen around the world in recent decades, and research increasingly implicates neonics in bird declines and the collapse of aquatic ecosystems. They are disastrous for nearly all wildlife. But threatened and endangered species, which typically suffer from a number of existential threats, often face the greatest consequences from the use of neonics and other pesticides

In approving neonic pesticides, the EPA has not complied with the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, the agency was required to consult with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service before it approved these toxic pesticides to evaluate their impact on threatened and endangered species and their habitats. The EPA has never complied.

In response, on October 2, 2017, NRDC filed a lawsuit challenging the registrations of dozens of products containing one of three wildlife-harming neonic pesticides—acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid—with the aim of forcing the agency to evaluate the impacts that pesticides have on imperiled species.

The EPA and the pesticide industry attempted to dismiss the lawsuit, but on September 25, 2019, a federal court denied the motion, allowing the case to move forward. In January 2021, we entered into a settlement with the EPA that requires the agency to initiate consultation on the effects of imidacloprid—one of the most commonly used neonics nationwide—by June 30, 2022. 

On March 7, 2022, the EPA and NRDC settled NRDC’s remaining claims related to acetamiprid and dinotefuran. In a huge victory for imperiled pollinators and other wildlife, the EPA is required to evaluate the effects of these neonics on endangered and threatened species by October 2024. If the EPA determines that these insecticides are likely to harm endangered or threatened species, the settlement requires the EPA to begin the formal consultation process required under the Endangered Species Act. That process should result in significant restrictions on use of these products to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats.

Last Updated

March 07, 2022



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Save Bees

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April 29, 2022

EPA Agrees to Evaluate Effects of Neonics

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) settled the remaining claims in NRDC’s 2017 lawsuit, which challenged the EPA’s failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) when approving dozens of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”).

March 08, 2022

Court Settlement: EPA Must Evaluate Impacts of Harmful Pesticide on Imperiled Species

CHICAGO – NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reached an agreement that requires the agency to evaluate the impacts of imidacloprid, one of the most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides, on endangered and threatened bees, butterflies, birds and other wildlife as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agreement sets a deadline for the Agency to do its ESA analysis of imidacloprid, to settle part of a lawsuit brought by NRDC. Neonicotinoids, including imidacloprid, have been implicated in bee die-offs and found to have significant impacts on a wide range of species.

January 28, 2021

Court Denies EPA’s Attempt to Dismiss Lawsuit on the Use of Toxic Pesticides

WASHINGTON – A federal court denied the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to force the agency to include Endangered Species Act considerations in the process to approve new neonicotinoid pesticides, which are controversial due to concerns about their impacts on bees and wildlife.

September 25, 2019

NRDC Lawsuit Against EPA Challenges Neonic Pesticide Registrations

CHICAGO (October 3, 2017) – The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today asked a federal court to vacate the registrations of nearly one-hundred products containing three widely-used neonics – acetamiprid, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid – until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complies with its legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act.

October 03, 2017