State Agencies Ask Senate to Exempt Pesticides from CWA Permit Requirements
On August 12, 2011, several state environmental and public health organizations sent a letter to Congress urging “the full Senate to join the House of Representatives and take legislative action on H.R. 872 to avoid what a great majority of states view as duplicative environmental permitting requirements for certain applications of pesticides on or near water.”
The organizations signing the letter are
● The Association of American Pesticide Control Officials;
● The Aquatic Plant Management Society;
●The Association of State & Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators;
● The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture; and
●The National Association of State Foresters.
Their letter was sent to the Honorable Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader; and to the Honorable Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader.
The duplicative regulation addressed by this letter stems from a federal court decision that requires EPA to regulate many pesticide applications under the CWA, as well as under FIFRA. EPA’s attempt to comply with this court order by issuing a general permit under the CWA is plagued by many problems. Among them are ESA consultation disagreements with NMFS and FWS.
The August 12th letter raises some more issues. It expresses great concern over the impact of requiring FIFRA compliant pesticide applications to also be permitted under the Clean water Act. This letter states in part that unless the Senate passes H.R. 872:
FIFRA compliant applications will also be subject to Clean Water Act (CWA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements. Unless Congress intervenes, state CWA permitting authorities – already operating under severely constrained budgets and with limited staff – will be required to regulate 365,000 new sources under the CWA despite the fact that another federal environmental statute has regulated these pesticide uses for decades.
365,000 new NPDES permits represent a 60 percent increase in the size of the NPDES program. NPDES permitting is not a mere paperwork exercise. State environmental authorities will not only need to process NPDES permit applications for aquatic pesticide applications, but also ensure compliance with a new regulatory program via inspections, monitoring, data collection, reporting, compliance assistance, and outreach to impacted applicators.
This dual regulation would impact public health and state and local pest and invasive species programs. For some mosquito control districts, permit compliance costs will nearly quadruple current budgets. If localities are impeded from controlling mosquitoes, increased West Nile Virus and equine encephalitis-related deaths could result. Therefore, duplicative regulation of pesticides could cause devastating threats to public health from mosquito borne diseases, with limited environmental benefits. Similarly, state and local agencies could be significantly hindered from adequately responding to environmental and economic threats posed by invasive species.
It is important to note that H.R. 872 only exempts FIFRA compliant applications from CWA permitting. Bad faith actors who misuse pesticides and pollute our nation’s waters can and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent under FIFRA. Likewise, industrial or commercial development processes are also still covered under the CWA.”
Click here to read the entire letter