August 05, 2015

Crapo Regulatory Relief Bill Clears Committee

Measure to repeal redundant and costly EPA regulation

Washington, D.C.-Idaho Senator Mike Crapo's legislation to eliminate a duplicative and costly U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation affecting Idaho's farmers took center stage at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today.  Crapo said providing regulatory relief to not only farmers, but ranchers, state and local governments, forest managers, water users and others impacted is long overdue.  If enacted, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act will lift the burden placed on pesticide users after a 2009 court ruling imposed an additional layer of needless red tape under the Clean Water Act.  After an unscheduled recess delayed the Committee's consideration of the bill, the measure was adopted by voice vote at a later meeting.

"This bipartisan legislation would fix a critical issue resulting from a federal court decision that up-ended decades of federal regulatory interpretation," Crapo added in a statement after the hearing. "This court decision has not provided meaningful environmental protections, but has created tremendous paperwork, compliance and litigation costs on regulated entities, including local governments, farmers, ranchers and other water users.  The bottom line is, pesticide applications in or near water were already federally regulated prior to the Sixth Circuit's 2009 ruling, and S. 1500 seeks to codify the EPA's previous interpretation of this issue and ensure that pesticide users do not have to comply with multiple regulatory burdens."

Background

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 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.

S. 1500, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act, 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-are 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.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) teamed up with Senator Crapo to introduce S. 1500.  Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Tom Carper (D-Delaware), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) and David Vitter (R-Louisiana) are all co-sponsors of themeasure.