Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), and Joe Baca (D-Cal.) have introduced H.R. 872, a bipartisan bill to reduce the regulatory burdens posed by the case National Cotton Council v. EPA (6th Cir. 2009). Joining in this effort as original cosponsors were House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), as well as Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), John Mica (R-Fla.), and Mike Simpson (R-Ind.).
Under the court ruling, pesticide users, which include farmers, ranchers, forest managers, state agencies, city and county municipalities, mosquito control districts, and water districts, among others, would have to obtain a duplicative permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the use of pesticides. Pesticide applications are already highly regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
The order of the court goes into effect on April 9, 2011. At that time, pesticide applications not covered by a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit are subject to a fine of up to $37,500 per day per violation. In addition to the cost of compliance, pesticide users will be subject to an increased risk of litigation under the citizen suit provision of the CWA.
The legislation would amend FIFRA and the CWA to clarify Congressional intent and eliminate the requirement of a NPDES permit for the use of FIFRA-registered pesticides.
"This legislation will prevent the single greatest expansion of the permitting process in the history of the Clean Water Act program. Unless Congress acts, hundreds of thousands of farmers, foresters, public health officials and others face either new regulatory costs or the threat of lawsuits and exorbitant fines," said Rep. Bob Gibbs, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.
"This order will cost jobs and further strain state and federal budget crises. It is critically important that we get this to the President's desk by April 9," Rep. Jean Schmidt, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, said.
Rep Joe Baca, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, added: "If left unchanged, the misguided ruling in the National Cotton Council v. EPAdecision may lead to devastating consequences for the public health of Americans and the economic well-being of state regulating agencies, agricultural producers, and small businesses. I am pleased to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan measure, which ensures FIFRA remains the standard for pesticide regulation and continues to protect the health and safety of our families and communities."
"Today we've introduced legislation to eliminate an unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burden imposed by an uninformed court decision. I encourage my colleagues to work together for swift passage before the April 9 deadline," said Lucas.
Ranking Member Petersonconcurred. “Congress never intended for farmers and ranchers to meet additional permit requirements for pesticide applications under FIFRA. The last thing producers need is more regulation and this bill will relieve producers from meeting a costly regulatory burden that would have little to no environmental benefit.”
"These duplicative regulations would unnecessarily burden our small businesses, farmers, state and local governments, and others. I commend Chairman Gibbs for helping to spearhead this common sense legislative effort to reign in the out-of-control federal regulatory policies that weigh down our economy and stifle job creation,” said Rep. John Mica, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
“Duplicative and unnecessary federal regulations make it that much harder for farmers and other water users to survive in difficult economic times,” said Rep. Mike Simpson, Chairman of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. “It is imperative that we act quickly to address this problem.”