U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., recently joined a bipartisan group of senators in introducing legislation that would eliminate a costly and redundant U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation affecting pesticide users. The Sensible Environmental Protection Act (SEPA), led by Senators Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., seeks to clarify congressional intent concerning federal regulation of pesticides and codify longstanding interpretation of regulatory statutes after a 2009 court ruling imposed an additional layer of needless red tape on food producers.
For more than 30 years, the EPA has implemented a comprehensive and rigorous regulatory structure for pesticide applications under what is commonly known as FIFRA, or the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. Unfortunately, despite this federal regulatory framework already in place, a 2009 court decision forced the EPA to begin requiring Clean Water Act (CWA) permits for certain applications of pesticides in or near water. This duplicative regulatory requirement went into effect in 2011.
SEPA would clarify that CWA permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water. The bill also requires EPA to report back to Congress on whether the FIFRA process can be improved to better protect human health and the environment.
“This common sense bill would discontinue the unnecessary and costly regulation implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency that affects farmers in Wyoming,” said Enzi. “With this bill people everywhere will be able to farm in a more efficient and inexpensive manner while still being safe and mindful of water usage.”
“Subjecting landowners to an additional layer of bureaucracy under the Clean Water Act is costly and unnecessary,” said Barrasso. “Landowners and municipalities already protect public health and the environment by complying with pesticide regulations under FIFRA. This bill removes barriers for users by eliminating the burdensome Clean Water Act permit requirement.”
As a result of this dual regulation, EPA has estimated an additional 365,000 pesticide users—including farmers, ranchers, state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators and forest managers that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually—will be required to obtain CWA permits. This is nearly double the number of entities previously subjected to permitting requirements, costing more than $50 million a year.
Senators John Boozman, R-Ark., Tom Carper, D-Del., Chris Coons, D-Del., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., are all original co-sponsors of the measure.