Supreme Court hears lively debate on protecting wetlands, led in part by Justice Jackson.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court heard a lively debate in advance of a June 30 deadline on whether the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate as agricultural pesticide a herbicide that is used by farmers to control unwanted weeds. That the case may be decided as soon as June 30 at the Court, with the court to act as soon as July 4, is a sign that this is a high-stakes legal battle, one that involves both an environmental regulation and regulations on the use of pesticides. The stakes are high in the Supreme Court because the case potentially affects not only EPA regulations on agricultural pesticides, but a wide variety of federal regulations on pesticides generally.
The case involves Monsanto, a chemical company, sued by the EPA over the herbicide Roundup. The herbicide, Roundup, is sold under the trademark name Roundup, and it is widely used by farmers on farms and ranches for control of unwanted weeds, including thistles. Monsanto manufactures Roundup and markets it to farmers as Roundup, to be used after the thistles are controlled.
Monsanto is a longtime enemy of the EPA’s Clean Water Protection Act, which requires agriculture pesticide application in states that permit the use of agricultural pesticides to reduce impacts to water resources. The EPA has determined that Roundup is a pesticide and has challenged Monsanto to prove that the herbicide is not a pesticide under the law. After much litigation, the EPA has proposed a new rule that would require Monsanto to prove to the EPA that Roundup is a non-pesticide. The EPA’s new rule makes it difficult for other companies to market agricultural pesticides to farmers without first proving that they are not pesticides.
In the Supreme Court case, Monsanto defended its herbicide, arguing that Roundup could cause soil, water and air pollution. The EPA countered that Roundup could be considered a pesticide for the same reasons, including its alleged effects on water,