High Court Appeal Sought

Published online: Apr 28, 2003
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>Washington State Potato Commission is pushing the state’s congressional representatives to press the Bush Administration for help in overturning a U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision at the U.S. Supreme Court level.

The action came after the Court declined a Bush administration request to review its decision to allow aerial application of pesticides in League of Wilderness Defenders vs. Forsgren (Case No. 01-35729).

Pat Boss, executive director of the WSPC, worried how the case might impact growers who rely on pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to protect their crops.

Last November the court decided against the U.S. Forest Service, saying the agency would have to obtain a national “pollutant” discharge permit under the Clean Water Act, Boss said.

The case could set a devastating precedent for U.S. agriculture because it found a FIFRA-registered pesticide to be a pollutant under the Clean Water Act. The ruling also found an aerial spray nozzle to be a “point source” under the same act.

“This would be devastating to American agricultural production because of the time and cost associated with obtaining such permits,” Boss said.

USDA statistics show that 25 percent of all commercial agricultural insecticides, pesticides and fungicides are applied to crops by aerial application.

Blister beetles, if not neutralized, can wipe out hundreds of acres of potatoes in just a few days. Potato growers have a lot at stake in this, Washington potato growers say.

Boss said this is clearly a ruling in conflict between the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Act.