A federal judge in Montana has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to take a tougher look at the possibility that routinely dropping toxic fire retardant on wildfires from airplanes will kill endangered fish and plants.

A federal judge in Montana has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to take a tougher look at the possibility that routinely dropping toxic fire retardant on wildfires from airplanes will kill endangered fish and plants.

U.S. District Donald W. Molloy ruled today that the environmental assessment was inadequate. He gave the Forest Service until the end of 2011 to do a tougher environmental impact statement.

Molloy wrote that although U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries Service found that fire retardant drops jeopardize the survival of endangered species, the agencies put no real limits on ordering retardant drops.

The lawsuit was brought by the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics in Eugene.

— The Associated Press