With Walden’s support, House moves to protect farmers and others from duplicative permit requirement that threatens public health

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House of Representatives today passed bipartisan legislation that would block new regulations that would subject farmers, mosquito control districts, and others to duplicative permitting and tens of thousands of dollars in counter-productive fines.

 

The legislation, H.R. 872, is cosponsored by Rep. Greg Walden. The bill is necessary to address negative economic and public health consequences of the ruling posed by the case National Cotton Council v. EPA (6th Cir. 2009). Under the court ruling, pesticide users would have to obtain a duplicative permit under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) or be subject to a fine of up to $37,500 per day per violation. The new permitting process would not only endanger public health by subjecting mosquito control districts to new permitting requirements under the CWA, it would put further strain on states whose agencies would have to establish new systems to administer and comply with the requirements.

 

“This court-ordered growth of unnecessary regulation threatens jobs and public health in rural Oregon,” Rep. Walden said. “The FIFRA registration and labeling process is and should remain the one and only standard for pesticide approval. It is imperative that this legislation quickly gain the Senate’s approval so the President can sign it into law and prevent the economic havoc that the Sixth Circuit Court’s ruling would have on our farmers, ranchers, and local governments. Without clarification from Congress that pesticides should only be regulated by EPA’s FIFRA process, I fear the next step may be regulation of farm spray rigs under the Clean Water Act.”

 

The bill amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the CWA to clarify Congressional intent and eliminate the requirement of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the application of pesticides already approved for specific use under FIFRA. Clarification is needed from Congress to prevent further duplicative regulation and CWA application permits for the use of pesticides by farmers and foresters in accordance with the prescriptive FIFRA label.

 

In 2006, EPA issued a rule exempting applications of aquatic pesticides from CWA permitting. However, the 2009 ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned EPA’s rule and directed the agency to develop such a permit – nearly doubling both the population of entities permitted under the CWA, as well as the obligations of state regulators.

 

The list of groups and individuals affected is long:

  • · farmers
  • · ranchers
  • · forest managers
  • · scientists
  • · state agencies
  • · city and county municipalities
  • · parks and recreation managers
  • · utility rights-of-way managers
  • · railroads, roads and highway vegetation manager
  • · mosquito control districts
  • · water districts and managers of canals and other water conveyances
  • · pesticide applicators

 

If the legislation does not become law and the court’s decision goes into effect, it will mean approximately 6 million pesticide applications will have to be issued each year to hundreds of thousands of users or they risk facing a fine of up to $37,500 per day per violation.

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