Senators say duplicative EPA regulations on pesticides prove costly and burdensome, yet provide no additional environmental protections
Washington, D.C. -Legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) was approved as an amendment today in a business meeting held by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The amendment offered to S. 659, the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act, would eliminate a costly and redundant U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation affecting pesticide users by clarifying congressional intent concerning federal regulation of pesticides and codifying longstanding interpretation of regulatory statutes after a 2009 court ruling imposed an additional layer of needless red tape on a variety of stakeholders. The amendment was based on the standalone bill S. 1500, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act.
For more than 30 years, the EPA has implemented a comprehensive and rigorous regulatory structure for pesticide applications under what is commonly known as FIFRA, or the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. FIFRA governs the sale, distribution and use of pesticides, with the goal of protecting human health and the environment. The statute requires pesticides to be evaluated (undergoing more than 100 tests) and registered with EPA, and for users to comply with agency-approved, uniform labeling standards. Unfortunately, despite this federal regulatory framework already in place, a 2009 court decision forced EPA to begin requiring Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for certain applications of pesticides in or near water. This duplicative regulatory requirement went into effect in 2011.
"The Sportsmen's Act business meeting provided an important forum to advance this regulatory relief issue," said Crapo. "Pesticides are a tool utilized by property owners, land and wildlife managers to combat invasive species, manage vegetation and promote healthy forests, rangelands and waterways which provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Healthy habitats support the hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation activities we cherish in Idaho and millions of Americans participate in each year. Eliminating regulatory burdens will free up time and resources for our land and wildlife managers to do their jobs and execute on the ground management objectives, which will benefit all sportsmen and women. ."
"This bill cuts through the unnecessary red tape our farmers are currently forced to navigate-redundant regulation that doesn't make us any safer," McCaskill said. It's commonsense, and it makes the overall permitting process more efficient and effective for the folks who are working to protect our health and the environment.
SEPA clarifies that CWA permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water. The bill also requires EPA to report back to Congress on whether the FIFRA process can be improved to better protect human health and the environment.
As a result of this dual regulation, EPA has estimated an additional 365,000 pesticide users-including farmers, ranchers, state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators and forest managers that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually-will be required to obtain CWA permits. This is nearly double the number of entities previously subjected to permitting requirements, costing more than $50 million a year.
The amendment was adopted by the committee by a 12-8 vote.