EPA lifts herbicide restrictions in Minnesota, says it had outdated information
The Environmental Protection agency says it relies on information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and had used outdated information about the eastern massasauga rattlesnake on decisions about Enlist Duo in Minnesota.
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has lifted restrictions on use of Enlist herbicides 134 counties, including six Minnesota counties where EPA admitted it used outdated information in an effort to protect a snake species.
In a news release sent Tuesday, March 29, EPA said it has approved the use of Enlist One and Enlist Duo in the 134 counties, removing restrictions it had issued in January.
EPA had prohibited use of Enlist Duo in six Minnesota counties because it said the herbicide would likely jeopardize the eastern massasauga rattlesnake. However, EPA said those restrictions were based on outdated species range maps from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"EPA subsequently learned that FWS updated their species range map in 2021, which shows that the Eastern Massasauga rattle snake is no longer present in Minnesota. Therefore, EPA has now determined that the prohibition of Enlist Duo in these counties is no longer necessary," EPA said in the March 29 news release.
Agweek reported on March 7 that both the Fish and Wildlife Service website and the Minnesota Department of Resources indicated that the rattlesnake could not be found in Minnesota.
In addition to the changes in Minnesota, EPA lifted restrictions on use of Enlist One and Enlist Duo in 128 counties, including restrictions in South Dakota and Nebraska. Restrictions had been put in place out of concern for the American burying beetle, a threatened species. However, EPA said after consulting updated range maps from the Fish and Wildlife Service, that when label directions are followed, use of the herbicides will not jeopardize the beetle.
Corteva Agriscience, the maker of Enlist One and Enlist Duo for use on Enlist soybeans, asked EPA for the label updates. Other states affected include Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas.
In the release, EPA said "it is important to note that Enlist One and Enlist Duo are still prohibited in several counties where EPA identified risks to other on-field listed species during earlier registrations ... ."
The Minnesota restrictions applied to six counties: Clay, Marshall, Polk, Redwood, Renville and Stearns.
Jeffrey Leclere with the Minnesota Herpetological Society had previously told Agweek that the massasauga "has never been documented in those counties," and he said they don't have the habitat the species would need.
The six somewhat scattered counties "are not even close to an area that used to have massagaugas."
It can be found on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River, and is native to several other states to the east and south of Minnesota.
“We’re very happy to see this senseless regulation has been revoked,” Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Executive Director Joe Smentek, who’s also an attorney, said in a statement on the group's website. “With all the supply chain issues agriculture continues to face, it’s crucial that farmers are able to use this technology to maintain profitability.”