Duplicative pesticide bill clears committee

House again advances its Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act which would eliminate duplicative NPDES permits.

Thursday the House Agriculture Committee marked up and approved the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, which eliminates the need for duplicative permitting under the Clean Water Act for pesticides.

A 2009 decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit applied the provisions of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permitting process under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to pesticide applications that were already fully regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). As a result, many farmers, ranchers, water resource boards and public health professionals involved in mosquito control are subject to costly and duplicative burdens providing no quantifiable public health or environmental benefit. 

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R., Ohio) who introduced the bill said the bill returns pesticide regulations to the state quote, before the court got involved. 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 even every day citizens, that perform some 5.6 million pesticide applications annually would be affected by the Court’s ruling.

“The attempt by those pressing this litigation to have federally registered public health, aquatic and agricultural pesticides regulated through the Clean Water Act permitting process is unnecessary, costly and ultimately undermines public health,” said House Agriculture Committee chairman Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas). “It amounts to a duplication of regulatory compliance costs for a variety of public agencies, adds to their legal jeopardy, and threatens pesticide applicators, including mosquito control districts with fines for non-compliance that are statutorily set at $37,500 per day per violation.”

Conaway added, “Correcting the erroneous court decision that created the duplicative process that has been a priority for public health, water resources and agricultural stakeholders.”

Ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) added the legislation restores Congressional intent and addresses the court’s ruling, while alleviating the burden of additional permitting requirements.

That bill, H.R. 872, was reported out of the House Agriculture committee by voice vote and passed the House floor on suspension with a vote of 292-130. The same bill passed the House in the last Congress as H.R. 935 on a vote of 267-161.

The bill language was included in the 2012 Farm Bill reported out of the committee, as well as in the 2013 Farm Bill the House sent to Conference.  It was included in the Committee reported text of the FY 2012 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. “Unfortunately, due to the opposition from a couple of our friends in the Senate, we have been unable to get this bill to the President’s desk for what we continue to believe would be his guaranteed signature,” Conaway said. 

Current Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) has introduced similar legislation.

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