CLA Applauds the House Committee on Agriculture on Passage of Two Important Bills
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Committee on Agriculture (Committee) passed two bills that are integral to the pesticide stakeholders’ ability to operate in a highly regulated, yet predictable environment. The Committee passed H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA), addressing funding of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017, addressing the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Pesticide General Permit (PGP), via voice vote. Although the bills have different regulatory focuses, they both offer solutions to existing inadequacies.
Established in 2004, PRIA creates a more predictable and effective evaluation process for affected pesticide decisions by coupling the collection of fees with specific decision review periods.
PRIA has been reauthorized three times, with the most recent reauthorization due to expire on September 30, 2017. In addition to extending provisions, the bill adjusts fee amounts, increases transparency, encourages Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), and adds flexibility to the use of collected fees.
“CLA applauds the leadership of Chairman Conaway, Chairman Davis, Ranking Member Peterson and Ranking Member Lujan Grisham for their swift action in reauthorizing the pesticide industry’s fee-for-service program,” stated Beau Greenwood, executive vice president of government relations and public affairs at CropLife America (CLA). “The reauthorization of PRIA ensures the continuation of the process improvements in EPA’s registration program, guarantees stable funding for the agency and protects block grants for training and education programs.” Greenwood continued, “The diverse coalition that has once again come together to support PRIA reauthorization should serve as a template for a host of pesticide and public policy issues in the 115th Congress.”
NPDES PGP Fix
Currently, pesticide applicators are subject to the court-created requirement that lawful applications over, to or near “waters of the U.S.” obtain a Clean Water Act (CWA) NPDES PGP from EPA or delegated states. HR 953 clarifies that federal law does not require this redundant permit for pesticide applications already authorized under federal pesticide law and would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and CWA to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters – specifically that no permit is required for the lawful application of a registered pesticide.
Under FIFRA, all pesticides are reviewed and regulated for use with strict instructions on the EPA-approved product label. A thorough scientific review and accounting of impacts to water quality and aquatic species is included in every EPA review. “Requiring water permits of federally regulated pesticide applications is redundant and provides no additional environmental benefit,” says Rebeckah Adcock, senior director of government relations at CLA. “The confusion caused by the current process also serves as fodder for nuisance suits and the proposed fix will provide a responsible solution,” she added. The legislation has also been referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and a companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.
Congress has attempted to adopt this legislation since early 2011 – with the full House passing it three times. The legislation would reverse a 2009 decision by the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (National Cotton Council, et al. v. EPA) in which the court vacated EPA’s 2006 Final Rule on Aquatic Pesticides that exempted pesticides from CWA permitting. Due to the court’s decision, NPDES permits are generally required for applications over or to “waters of the US” since late 2011.