U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) introduced legislation yesterday that would eliminate a costly and redundant EPA regulation on pesticides. A bipartisan group of senators co-sponsored the Restoring Effective Environmental Protection (REEP) Act, including: Senators Inhofe (R-OK), McCaskill (D-MO), Barrasso (R-WY), Carper (D-DE), Coons (D-DE), Risch (R-ID), Landrieu (D-LA), Vitter (R-LA), Pryor (D-AR), and Conrad (D-ND).
"The EPA's own cost analysis has estimated the new permitting requirements will cost more than $50 million a year, as well as at least one million hours to process," Crapo said. "This cost on rural America is unprecedented, as virtually every stream and creek near pesticide applications will be subject to regulation. Our rural communities are under a substantial amount of financial and regulatory pressure and are looking to Congress for much-needed relief."
"This issue is not about whether pesticides should be regulated," said Hagan. "The REEP Act is about eliminating a redundant regulation that provides little or no environmental or public health benefits. I am proud of the bipartisan support this bill has received, and I will continue working with my colleagues to get this bill signed into law. North Carolina's farmers should not be burdened with this unnecessary and costly regulation."
"This bill takes a common-sense approach to reforming the burdensome and duplicative pesticide permitting process for Delaware's farmers," said Carper. "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."
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.