Sen. Roberts introduces bill to eliminate 'costly, redundant and burdensome' EPA pesticides permit

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 4 - Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced legislation Monday “to eliminate a burdensome, costly and redundant permit requirement for applications of pesticides.”

“This double layer of red tape will cost producers and consumers. It also takes aim at public health departments by requiring permits on top of existing permits for pesticide use,” Roberts explained. “This creates confusion and the potential for significant penalties. Our bill eliminates this redundant permit requirement while at the same time ensuring proper pesticide use through existing law.”

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At issue is the Jan. 2009 Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in National Cotton Council v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That ruling required pesticide applications to be permitted under the Clean Water Act. This National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit would be in addition to any label requirements or restrictions already placed on the use of a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

This new court-ordered requirement is of particular concern for public health officials who are now restricted in their ability to control mosquitoes, and the spread of diseases like the West Nile virus. It is also a significant issue for agriculture.

In June 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft general permit for pesticide applications in response to the Sixth Circuit Court's decision.

Under this proposed draft, approximately 35,000 pesticide applicators will need permits to cover about 500,000 applications per year. EPA estimates the permit will cost states, local entities and pesticide applicators $50 million and require one million hours to implement per year. Under the Clean Water Act, unlawful discharges are subject to $37,500 per day in fines.

Senator Roberts' bill ensures Clean Water Act permits are not needed for the application of pesticides and amends FIFRA by stating that no permit shall be required for the use of a pesticide that is registered under FIFRA. The bill has the following original cosponsors: Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., James Risch, R-Idaho, Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Jerry Moran, R-Kan. and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

“I have spoken with Chairwoman Stabenow and look forward to working closely with her on this effort,” Roberts said.

Last month, the House passed similar legislation, H.R. 872.

Senator Roberts has been outspoken against what he calls the Obama administration's burdensome regulations. In February, Roberts introduced a bill called the “Regulatory Responsibility for our Economy Act,” or S. 358, to strengthen and codify the president's Executive Order from Jan. 18, 2011, to ensure the president's order is carried out to review, modify, streamline, expand, or repeal those significant regulatory actions, that are duplicative, unnecessary, burdensome, or would have significant economic impacts on Americans. That legislation has 46 cosponsors.

For information on last week's court ruling which postponed the pesticides permit requirement until Oct. 31 at EPA's request, click HERE.

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