WASHINGTON - As Congress considers measures to prevent the Zika virus threat, Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are calling on President Obama to support relief from the overregulation of pesticide users, including mosquito control authorities, in order to more effectively address current and future threats to public health.
While the Senate is considering legislation that would provide $1.1 billion to fight the spread of the Zika virus, a filibuster by Senate Democrats has prevented the bill from moving forward. As the legislative debate continues on a federal response to the Zika virus, Crapo and Risch continue to advocate for inclusion of their bill S. 1500, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act. The bill is supported by a group of bipartisan Senators and would remove redundant, time-consuming and costly permitting requirements on the nation's pest control professionals as well as farmers, ranchers, municipalities, water users and forest managers.
The President has stated his opposition to the regulatory relief provided by Crapo and Risch's bill, however, officials from his administration at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that aerial insecticide applications are the "most important tool" for combating the spread of Zika on the U.S. mainland and territories. The legislation advocated by Crapo and Risch would reduce regulatory burdens on pesticide applicators and free up stafftime and budgets to focus on mosquito eradication instead of needless paperwork. Crapo, along with members of the Senate and House, recently sent a letter to the President asking him to heed the recommendations of his administration's officials and reconsider his opposition to S.1500.
"As the House and Senate continue to debate responses to the Zika threat, pesticides regulatory relief is an issue that must be included," said Crapo. "S. 1500 is a no-cost measure that would immediately help mosquito control authorities do their jobs without undue regulatory burdens and the threat of frivolous lawsuits. By burdening applicators with duplicative and unnecessary rules, valuable time is spent complying with regulations that could better be spent on addressing public health and safety. The President should listen to his agency experts and support legislative proposals that help mosquito control authorities on the front lines better carry out their missions.
"Many Idaho businesses, communities, and irrigation districts are in need of support when it comes to focusing on mosquito eradication." said Risch. "This legislation would make it so that all involved could focus their resources and energy on combatting Zika, not navigating red tape and bureaucracy."
For more than 30 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has implemented a comprehensive regulatory structure for pesticide applications under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The statute requires pesticides to be evaluated (undergoing more than 100 tests) and registered with the EPA. Users must comply with agency-approved, uniform labeling standards. Despite the extensive regulation, a 2009 court decision forced the agency to also require Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for certain applications of pesticides in or near water. This duplicative regulatory requirement went into effect in 2011 resulting in all pesticide users, including mosquito and pest control organizations, having to deal with duplicative federal regulations that consume valuable staff time and budgets. The EPA estimated an additional 365,000 pesticide users-including farmers, ranchers, state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, and forest managers who 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. S. 1500 would remove the duplicative permitting requirement while ensuring pesticides remain solely regulated under FIFRA.
A copy of the letter signed by Crapo and others is attached or may be downloaded here.
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