American Oversight, EWG Challenge EPA Over Failure to Release Pesticide Records

Lawsuit Follows Pruitt’s Decision to Permit Use of Neurotoxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos Against Recommendations of EPA Scientists

WASHINGTON – American Oversight filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency today to force the release of documents and communications regarding Administrator Scott Pruitt’s March 29 decision to overrule EPA scientists and permit the continued use of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos. This lawsuit is part of an ongoing investigation by American Oversight and the Environmental Working Group into the decision.

“Time and again, Scott Pruitt has been shown to be squarely in the pocket of the industries he’s supposed to regulate, both as Oklahoma attorney general, and now at the EPA. His decision to allow the use of chlorpyrifos, despite the scientific consensus, including among EPA experts, that it’s harmful shows clearly that his priority is helping his friends at big chemical companies and not the safety of our children,” said American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers. “American Oversight is suing to get to the bottom of this, and uncover how and why Administrator Pruitt made this questionable decision.”

“Chlorpyrifos is a potent neurotoxic pesticide linked to serious health risks – even brain damage – especially to children,” said Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney for EWG. “That’s why so many public health advocates were shocked when the EPA abruptly reversed course and decided to allow this dangerous pesticide to remain on the market. EPA should swiftly respond to our information request so that the public can know exactly what led them to make this decision.” 

Given a lack of adequate response by the agency, the lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeks to enforce American Oversight's April 11 Freedom of Information Act request with the EPA, which sought the release of communications between administration officials and pesticide manufacturers, as well as those with groups that have advocated for the continued use of chlorpyrifos.

The FOIA request specifically asks for EPA communications with Dow Chemical, Dow AgroSciences, CropLife America and think tanks including the Heritage Foundation.

In 2016, EPA scientists concluded that chlorpyrifos posed a serious health risks, particularly among children. While chlorpyrifos has been banned from most household uses for two decades, approximately 40,000 farms still use the pesticide on 50 different types of crops.

“Children, particularly infants and babies, are uniquely susceptible to the harm chlorpyrifos can cause because their tiny bodies are still developing,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s senior science advisor for children’s environmental health. “Any neurological disruption triggered by even small amounts of chlorpyrifos can have lasting and detrimental impacts on their brains and behavior.”

Click here to read the complaint.


American Oversight is a nonpartisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog committed to holding the government accountable. With congressional oversight lacking, American Oversight is stepping in to uncover and publicize information about malfeasance and corruption by administration officials. Follow us at @weareoversight and learn more at

The Environmental Working Group is nonprofit, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. EWG is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., and Ames, Iowa.

Additional contact:
American Oversight | [email protected] | 202-869-5242
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