Today, the House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 872, The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011. It is a bipartisan bill that would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to clarify Congressional intent and eliminate the requirement of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for pesticides approved for use under FIFRA.
The legislation, which is cosponsored by 39 of the 46 members of the Agriculture Committee, is necessary to address the negative economic consequences of the ruling posed by the case National Cotton Council v. EPA (6th Cir. 2009). Under the court ruling, pesticide users would have to obtain a duplicative permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) by April 9, 2011 or be subject to a fine of up to $37,500 per day per violation.
The next step in the legislative process will be for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to consider the bill as it is the committee of primary jurisdiction.
"Without Congressional action, this misguided ruling would be a crushing blow to an already fragile economy. It would unleash a blitz of regulatory burdens on our farmers and ranchers starting with requiring an extra permit for pesticide applications, thousands of dollars in fines for non-compliance, and an increased risk of lawsuits down the road. I urge my colleagues in both the House and Senate to work together on this issue so we can send a bill to the President," said Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
"For too long we've watched organizations use the courts to twist laws against American farmers and agricultural production. The courts are not the place to decide agriculture policy. This legislation is a step in the right direction to address this problem and make it clear that Congress never intended to burden producers with additional permit requirements that would have little to no environmental benefit," said Rep. Collin Peterson, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee.
"I am pleased that H.R. 872 passed the Agriculture Committee so quickly because the April 9th deadline is fast approaching. Without this bill becoming law, this permit would cost jobs and further strain already tight state budgets," stated Rep. Jean Schmidt, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture.
"I thank my colleagues in the House Agriculture Committee for their swift action to ensure FIFRA remains the standard for safe and effective pesticide regulation. If left unfixed, the misguided ruling in the National Cotton Council v. EPA decision will 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 will continue to work towards quick passage of this responsible legislation from the House, so this fix can soon be signed into law," said Rep Joe Baca, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture.
"This unprecedented judicially-triggered expansion of government regulation creates duplicative, burdensome and costly obligations that provide no quantifiable benefits to human health or the environment. Unless Congress acts, the only measureable results of this ruling will be the higher costs for farmers and ranchers and the number of lost jobs in Ohio's leading industry. We must ensure that FIFRA remains the standard for pesticide regulation, and continues to protect the health and safety of our families and communities," said Rep. Bob Gibbs, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.