House Ag Committee passes pesticide permit-fix legislation
A 2009 decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit erroneously applied the provisions of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting process under the Clean Water Act to pesticide applications that were already fully regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
“There is no reason for this permit requirement, which would do nothing to further protect the environment or water quality,” explained Don Parrish, American Farm Bureau Federation Clean Water Act specialist. “At worst, farmers and ranchers will lose crops while they’re waiting for a federal permit to allow them to control pests, and state and federal workers will waste time processing unnecessary permits.”
Federal law requires that EPA evaluate pesticides and label them for proper use before they go onto the market. That evaluation process includes potential impacts on water quality.
“FIFRA was enacted more than 50 years ago, and it establishes a rigorous process of agency evaluation and scientific assessment of how a pesticide’s use will affect the environment. Requiring Clean Water Act permits on top of EPA-approved registration is all cost and no benefit,” Parrish said.
Furthermore, it was never Congress’ intent to saddle farmers with additional permit requirements that would have little to no environmental benefit. “This bill would help keep this from happening,” according to Parrish.
The legislation is also under the jurisdiction of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has a history of bipartisan support for the bill. House leaders have not indicated when they will bring the bill up on the floor, but similar legislation was passed in the House in 2011 (H.R. 872) and 2014 (H.R. 935).