On Thursday, just prior to EPA’s request for a delay, Keith Menchey, who covers science and environmental issues for the National Cotton Council, spoke with Delta Farm Press about the NPDES permitting, legislation, and the EPA request for a delay. Among his comments:

On the House legislation…

“Some lawmakers on the House side have introduced a bill, HR 872, which would amend both the Clean Water Act and FIFRA. It would exempt pesticide use from any CWA permitting.

“Basically, it would take us back to EPA’s 2006 rule that was vacated by the Sixth Circuit Court decision.

“Because it amends both CWA and FIFRA, the bill would see jurisdiction by both the House Agriculture Committee and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“We’ve got a very close timeline with this since the effective date (for the EPA new pesticide application regulations) is April 9 – unless the court chooses to provide an extension.

“So, both committees will have to mark up (HR 872). Hopefully, it will get enough support. Perhaps it will get onto the suspension calendar, which would send it over to the Senate with a bit more strength.” That’s because “a suspension vote needs the support of two-thirds of the members.”

On Stabenow’s letter…

“Stabenow has sent a letter to EPA (urging Administrator Lisa Jackson) to ask the court for an extension. If EPA does that and we get an extension, we’ll have a bit more time to work on this.

“But, as of now, we can’t assume that will happen. And the effective date is still April 9.

“We’ve already been talking to the Senate side on a legislative fix.”

Do you think the EPA will buck against (Stabenow’s request)?

“My personal observation is that EPA is seeing how difficult” implementing the permitting “is going to be. They’ve heard a lot from states about what a burden it will be. It adds no additional environmental protections.

“I think EPA will at least be neutral – that’s what they’ve said. They’re not going to support it, either. But ‘neutral’ is better than them opposing it – to get Democratic votes, anyway.”

On other commodity groups and the case…

“The agriculture community is fired up. I just got back from a meeting with all of them and everyone is raring to go at this.”

dbennett@farmpress.com