Only four years ago — and on the heels of a 12-year study — EPA scientists deemed proper use of atrazine acceptable to the nation’s environment. Then, last year, to the disbelief of many in the agriculture sector, EPA administrators claimed another review was necessary.

Many are still wondering why the EPA took its current course regarding the herbicide. So, what now?

“Officially, the next action on the calendar is convening the Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) in September,” said Jere White, director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association and chairman of the Triazine Network, during a July 7 press conference. “They’ve indicated at least two more SAPs (will convene) after the September SAP.”

At the press conference, White shared a microphone with Don Coursey — a University of Chicago economist who recently compiled a report on the potential fallout of an atrazine ban — and pointed to several questionable EPA administrator actions and statements driving the atrazine “re-review.”

There have been “public statements of officials within the White House and others that have indicated some sort of decision may be made that would be reviewed by the September SAP. This is concerning on a number of levels. The whole idea of (SAPs) is to vet out science that lets you make decisions, not necessarily to review decisions already made.”

There has been “absolutely nothing based on the SAPs held since last October to indicate a change of policy on atrazine based on any kind of science — other than, at best, political science.”

Robert Verchick, an EPA official, recently spoke at a Federalist Society activity “that was looking at regulation and atrazine,” said White. “It’s available on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW6Le_ztjmo). He made the comment that EPA would be rendering some decisions and placing (those) before the September SAP for their review and response.”

This comes after the last SAP met in April. “At the conclusion, one of the EPA scientists made the comment that they’d been given a large task (to accomplish). They were told to assemble an army, had a lot of work to do and a very short time to do it.”

Yet, at the assistant administrator level of the EPA “it’s just ‘well, we’re unsure what all the concern is about this. It’s business as usual. Atrazine was up for review again in 2013 anyway.’ As if (EPA employees) don’t have enough on their plate.”

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com