Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) joined Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) in introducing legislation yesterday that would eliminate a costly and redundant EPA regulation on pesticides. A bipartisan group of Senators cosponsored the Restoring Effective Environmental Protection (REEP) Act, including: Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), David Vitter (R-La.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).
Senator Tom Carper: "This bill takes a common-sense approach to reforming the burdensome and duplicative pesticide permitting process for Delaware's farmers. Ensuring there is one regulatory system -- not two -- will enable us to better protect our health without wasting precious taxpayer dollars. Going forward, I remain committed to working with my fellow Senators to advance this important legislation and supporting Delaware's -- and our nation's -- farmers."
Senator Chris Coons: "It's important that we strike the right balance between protecting our environment and adding to the workload of our farmers. The REEP Act would eliminate a bureaucratic redundancy in the permitting process and reduce the administrative burden on our farmers without weakening environmental protections. This is smart policy that I'm proud to support."
For more than thirty years, the EPA has implemented a comprehensive regulatory scheme for pesticide applications under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). According to EPA, a new pesticide must undergo over 100 different tests to characterize its potential risks to the environment and human and wildlife heath. Unfortunately, a court decision forced EPA to begin requiring Clean Water Act permits for certain applications of pesticides in or near water. The new permitting system went into effect on November 1, 2011.
The REEP Act (S. 3605) includes identical language from H.R. 872, which clarifies that Clean Water Act permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water. In 2011, H.R. 872 was passed by the House with bipartisan support and approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee by voice vote. The REEP Act also asks EPA to report back to Congress on whether the FIFRA process can be improved to better protect human health and the environment from pesticide applications.
As a result of this new 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 Clean Water Act permits. This is nearly double the number of entities previously subject to permitting requirements.
A broad spectrum of organizations are supporting the REEP Act and H.R. 872, including: American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cotton Council, American Soybean Association, United Fresh Produce Association, USA Rice Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, CropLife America, Mosquito Control Association, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Water Resources Association, and Family Farm Alliance.