Senators introduce bill to correct duplicative pesticide permit requirements
Washington—Recently introduced in the Senate, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act (S. 1500) would clarify that lawful applications of pesticides regulated under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are not subject to permitting under the Clean Water Act.
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 FIFRA.
“This redundant regulation is an extra burden for farmers but does nothing to further protect the environment or water quality,” explained Don Parrish, American Farm Bureau Federation Clean Water Act specialist. “Protecting human health and the environment are very important, but we can achieve those goals with one federal program. It doesn’t make sense to require farmers to jump through extraneous regulatory hoops.”
Federal law requires that EPA evaluate pesticides and label them for proper use before they go onto the market. That evaluation process is extremely comprehensive and 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.
The additional and unnecessary permitting requirement can cause farmers and ranchers to lose crops while they’re waiting for a federal permit to allow them to control pests. This problem is made even more problematic by EPA’s overly broad WOTUS rule. Taken together, these two issues create significant liabilities for farmers and ranchers.
The permitting requirement also wastes the time and money of state and federal workers who have to process the permits.
The Senate bill, introduced by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), has been referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In March, the House Agriculture Committee approved a similar measure, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015 (H.R. 897).