Senate Ag Chair Stabenow asks EPA to support delaying new pesticide rules

By Jon H. Harsch

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WASHINGTON, March 2 - Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., wrote EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Wednesday requesting that Jackson ask for a nine-month extension of the two-year stay of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the National Cotton Council v. EPA case. Stabenow says the delay is “necessary to prevent widespread confusion regarding Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting obligations that could arise for hundreds of thousands of regulated entities nationwide, including farms and timberlands.”

For news coverage of EPA's request Thursday for a six-month extension and reaction from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, click HERE. The two farm groups welcomed EPA's extension request and called on Congress to pass H.R. 872, a bill to block EPA from regulating pesticides under the Clean Water Act.

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The full text of Sen. Stabenow's letter follows:

March 2, 2011

The Honorable Lisa Jackson
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson:

I write to respectfully request that you ask the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to extend, by nine months, the two-year stay it granted in National Cotton Council v. EPA. I believe that an extension of the stay - which is set to expire on April 9, 2011 - is necessary to prevent widespread confusion regarding Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting obligations that could arise for hundreds of thousands of regulated entities nationwide, including farms and timberlands. It is my understanding that neither EPA nor States with delegated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) programs are sufficiently prepared to implement the permitting requirements. Providing additional time will give the relevant regulatory agencies enough time to properly implement the Court's 2009 ruling, which made applications of aquatic pesticides subject to NPDES permitting requirements.

An extension of the stay would also provide Congress with an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how EPA's implementation of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) protects human health and the environment, including the quality of water resources. Gaining additional insight into FIFRA's protection for waters would also be particularly relevant to a review of EPA's preparation of the Pesticide General Permit under the CWA.

Because FIFRA is the primary statute governing pesticide use, I would like to obtain additional information regarding EPA's implementation of the statue to determine the effectiveness of protection for human health and the environment in the case of pesticide applications on or near water.

* In implementing its statutory mandate, what efforts does EPA take to ensure that FIFRA-registered pesticides, particularly those for aquatic use, do not adversely affect the environment and human health?

* Describe the steps that EPA takes to assess risks and identify controls to mitigate risks.

* What steps does EPA take to collect information on incidents related to pesticide use? What does the Agency do with that information?

* How do EPA and the States, through their delegated authority, ensure that pesticide applicators adhere to the requirements of FIFRA that protect human health and the environment?

I thank you for your attention to these matters, and I look forward to your response to the issues raised in this letter.


Debbie Stabenow

United States Senator

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