NMFS’ BiOp Requires Many Changes in EPA’s Proposed Pesticides General Permit
On June 17, 2011, the United States National Marine Fisheries Service issued a Biological Opinion reviewing the impact on aquatic endangered species of EPA’s proposed pesticide general permit. This BiOp is issued under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. EPA’s PGP is required by court order and will be issued under the Clean Water Act. The permit that EPA is crafting will apply in those states and regions that do not have delegated CWA permit authority over the issue, including Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Alaska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, as well as tribal and federal lands.
NMFS’ BiOp finds that the PGP is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of 33 endangered or threatened species under NMFS’ jurisdiction. NMFS’ BiOp also finds that the PGP will result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat that has been designated for 29 of those species.
NMFS’ BiOp tells EPA to take several steps to strengthen the permit requirements in at least three states where it applies, including Idaho, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as on federal lands in Washington State and on tribal land in other regions. NMFS says these areas require stricter conditions because they overlap with areas that have high concentration of endangered species under their jurisdiction, including various salmon and trout species in the Northwest.
Among other things, NMFS’ BiOp requires EPA to demonstrate that there is no spraying in critical habitat, no spraying in the “range” of endangered species, and that there are no known adverse effects on species from the chemicals. Moreover, NMFS calls on EPA to strengthen the NOI, requiring permitted entities to provide additional details about their activities and the chemicals they plan to use. NMFS also requires EPA to establish a monitoring plan to ensure pesticide pollutant discharges do not exceed water quality criterion.
● To read NMFS’ BiOp and to read EPA’s PGP website please see http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=410