By Stewart Doan

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 1 - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted a draft final pesticide general permit (PGP) to “minimize” discharges into U.S. waters that spells out which uses will be covered and some of the management practices that an estimated 35,000 permittees will be required to follow.

The agency was ordered to develop a permitting process as a result of the 6th Circuit Court’s 2009 decision, which found that discharges from pesticides into federal waters were pollutants, and, therefore, will require a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

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

EPA requested, and the court granted, an extension of the date when CWA permits are required from April 9, 2011 to October 31, 2011.

Pointing out that the extension did not “fix the underlying problem” of duplicative permitting requirements, House Agriculture Committee leaders spearheaded House passage last week of legislation that exempts FIFRA-approved pesticides from CWA regulation.

The draft PGP released Friday does not contain any additional conditions that may result from EPA’s ongoing Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation with other federal resource agencies.

Until those talks are completed, “We’re not sure how states and potential permit applicants can really do much prep when ESA services can turn everything inside out,” Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America, said in a statement to Agri-Pulse.

Even bigger picture than that, the Court decision is duplicative and costly for no environmental benefit. Thus the only prudent measure is Senate adoption of H.R. 872 and the President signing the correction into law soonest,” he added.

H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, cleared the House last week by a veto-proof majority. The legislation exempts FIFRA-approved pesticides from CWA regulation.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., suggests the additional permitting requirement won’t impact agricultural pesticide use to the extent feared by House Agriculture Committee leaders.

Stabenow did not specifically mention a legislative remedy when asked on this week’s Open Mic webcast how she intends to address the court ruling.

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