Stay Debated in Lawsuit Contesting Restrictions of Dicamba Registration

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal defendants filed a reply in a lawsuit contesting the registration of dicamba arguing that the case should be stayed and deadlines extended in a District of Columbia District Court lawsuit. 

The lawsuit purported that restrictions placed on the use of dicamba herbicides on dicamba-resistant crops were not appropriate.  After the registration of dicamba was vacated by the court in 2020, the EPA re-registered the herbicide with additional required precautions to prevent spread of the herbicide during application, including a buffer zone between the crops and other plants. The American Soybean Association and Plains Cotton Growers Inc. contested these restrictions in the registration arguing that the required buffer zones violate federal laws and were not determined through judicial review as is required under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. 

The motion was initially filed on July 23, arguing that the court should wait to address the issue until multiple petitions for review of the same EPA actions before the D.C. Circuit Court are resolved. The plaintiffs claimed that the D.C. Circuit and the D.C. District Court should both consider the issue at the same time, reasoning that farmers are being harmed by the restrictions and the matter should be resolved quickly. 

In response, the federal parties argued that if the cases are both heard at the same time it would be an inefficient use of resources for both the court and the parties. The defendants claimed that “the benefits to judicial economy from staying this case outweigh any potential harm to Growers.” Reportedly, the D.C. Circuit is proceeding with briefing on subject matter jurisdiction which will not be completed until July 2022. 

“There is no need for this Court or the parties to expend resources addressing the threshold question of subject matter jurisdiction when the D.C. Circuit will do so anyway. Where challenges to the same agency action are pending in both district and appellate courts, district courts commonly stay proceedings to await the appellate court’s decision as to where subject matter jurisdiction lies,” the EPA claimed. 

Responding to the plaintiffs’ request that the court should address the pending motion regarding partial dismissal, the EPA said it did not object to the suggestion as the issue is not being considered in the D.C. Circuit matter and has already been briefed. 

The plaintiffs are represented by Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, the EPA and individuals associated with it are represented by the Department of Justice.