WASHINGTON, February 29, 2012 -Ag groups and a key Senate ally accelerated their push for a legislative fix for new – and what they say are duplicative - pesticide permitting requirements ahead of the Mar. 1 launch of EPA enforcement activity. For the first 120 days since EPA’s NPDES permit for aquatic pesticide applications went into effect on Oct. 31, the agency has focused on compliance assistance rather than enforcement. The grace period ends today. Tomorrow, the agency will host a webinar to discuss the requirement under its Pesticide General Permit for certain applicators to submit a Notice of Intent to be authorized to discharge pesticides into U.S. waters.
With spring planting fast approaching, there is concern in the countryside about the potential for a new crop of citizen lawsuits to emerge as EPA begins enforcing a 2009 Sixth Circuit Court ruling that point source discharges of pesticides that leave a residue in federal waters were pollutants under the Clean Water Act.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R- KS, tried again to win expedited approval of a “clean” two-year delay of the NPDES permit requirement. But two Democratic members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Chair Barbara Boxer of California and Ben Cardin of Maryland, continued to object. Both said they would lift their hold on Roberts’ bill - provided language is attached requiring EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a far-reaching study on the potential impacts of pesticides in water.
However, farm and commodity groups said “no thanks.” One industry source described the proposed study as a “solution looking for a problem,” suggesting it would make the enactment of a permanent fix to the redundant permitting requirements for already-regulated pesticides.
Original story printed in February 29, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.
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