The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee recently approved H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011. The legislation affirms that pesticide application for activities such as crop protection, forest management and public health is effectively regulated through the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and does not require a duplicative National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The House approved the bill in March with more than two-thirds voting in support.
The Agricultural Retailers Association, along with other ag and forestry groups applauded the measure. ARA thanked its membership for contacting their senators regarding the bill.
For most of the past four decades, water quality concerns from pesticide applications were addressed within the registration process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), rather than a Clean Water Act permitting program. H.R. 872 amends both the Clean Water Act and FIFRA in order to restore the previous regulatory framework.
Under a federal court ruling in 2009, pesticide applicators would have to apply for an NPDES permit if the chemical reaches a body of water, which could include ditches and culverts. Although NPDES permits will not provide any additional environmental benefits, the complex new requirements will expose growers to potential citizen action suits for something as simple as paperwork violations.