Latest attempt to ease pesticide rule blocked

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2- An additional attempt to approve either a two-year moratorium or a repeal of what many describe as a costly and duplicative pesticide application permit, the new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for each application on or near water, failed again today. 

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U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced an amendment to H.R. 872 to provide a two-year moratorium on implementation of the rule and called on the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to hotline it. Senate opponents of the measure blocked Sen. Roberts' effort by objecting to the hotline despite the yesterday's date of implementation. In the U.S. Senate, to hotline a bill means to expedite approval by unanimous consent.

“While I would prefer the Senate approve the House passed bipartisan H.R. 872 to eliminate the extra paperwork and confusion surrounding pesticide permits, without a clear solution to this double permitting issue a moratorium would have allowed more time to address the situation ,” Roberts said. “It is a shame this commonsense compromise was rejected due to partisan politics. I remain committed to finding a permanent solution to protect American agriculture and public health departments.”

Pesticide use is already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

In January 2009, a Sixth Circuit Court decision in, National Cotton Council v. EPA, said pesticide discharge is a point source of pollution subject to additional regulation under the Clean Water Act, necessitating NPDES permits for each application near water bodies. The agency estimates that the ruling will eventually affect approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually.

In 2006, EPA's pesticide rule also exempted pesticide applications properly made to control aquatic pests. But the court panel's decision overturned EPA's policy, asserting that the final agency rule was not a reasonable interpretation of the CWA and that pesticide applications made to, over, or near water bodies will require NPDES permits.

The decision has been stayed twice to allow time for EPA to implement the rule. The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill, H.R. 872, in June to clarify Congressional intent with regard to the new pesticide application requirements and the Senate Agriculture Committee followed suit. However, the legislation has stalled in the full Senate where it was subject to multiple holds. Attempts to attach it to other legislation were unsuccessful.


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