The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on March 16 approved a bill to eliminate a costly and duplicative permitting requirement for the application of pesticides. H.R. 872, the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011,” is bipartisan legislation that was introduced in the House by Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Transportation Committee Member and Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture Jean Schmidt (R-OH), and other Members of the House. The bill reverses a decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in National Cotton Council v. EPA. This court decision vacated a 2006 EPA rule and long-standing interpretation that the application of a pesticide for its intended purpose and in compliance with the requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) does not also require a separate permit under the Clean Water Act.
The court-ordered deadline for EPA to promulgate the new permitting process for pesticides is April 9, 2011. EPA has estimated that approximately 365,000 pesticide users, including state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators, farmers, ranchers, forest managers, scientists, and every day citizens that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually will be affected by the court’s ruling. This action will double the number of entities currently subject to National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting under the Clean Water Act. H.R. 872 exempts, from the NPDES permitting process, a discharge to waters involving the application of a pesticide authorized for sale, distribution, or use under FIFRA, where the pesticide is used for its intended purpose and the use is in compliance with pesticide label requirements. The legislation would amend FIFRA and the Clean Water Act to clarify Congressional intent and eliminate the duplicative NPDES requirement.