Job creation and economic growth require that Congress actively practice its oversight responsibilities, including reviewing regulations that affect small businesses and workers and curtailing redundant and overly-burdensome federal mandates. That is why I recently joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing legislation to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters. This issue is another example of overregulation that needs to be addressed.
Many critics, including farmers, fear that the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed rules and regulations do not always fully take into consideration the economic consequences of the regulations, which can result in significant obstacles to growth and job creation. We must be good stewards of our natural resources, and this includes close and serious consideration of the social and economic impacts associated with restricting the use of our resources.
The need to curb redundant regulation drove me to join in introducing the Restoring Effective Environmental Protection (REEP) Act, S. 3605. This legislation, introduced by Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), would clarify that Clean Water Act permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water and requests that the EPA report to Congress on whether the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) process can be improved to better protect human health and the environment from pesticide applications. So far, eleven Senators, including fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch, have co-sponsored this legislation.
According the Congressional Research Service, there are an estimated 18,000 pesticide products currently in use, and these chemicals are generally regulated under FIFRA. The EPA indicates that new pesticides must undergo 100 different tests to characterize their potential risks to the environment and human and wildlife health. In addition to this extensive review process, the EPA began requiring Clean Water Act permits for certain applications of pesticides in or near water.
Many are rightly concerned that this redundant regulation would cause considerable additional costs, paperwork requirements and delays without providing a substantive health and environmental benefit. The EPA's own cost analysis indicates the new permitting requirements will cost more than $50 million per year, as well as at least one million hours to process. The cost to rural America is significant, especially considering that virtually every stream and creek near pesticide applications will be subject to regulation under the rule.
One of my priorities in the 112th Congress is regulatory reform. Americans deserve the curtailment of unreasonable government mandates, including EPA overreach, to encourage innovation, create long-term job opportunities and success in the world market. Our rural communities are under a substantial amount of financial and regulatory pressure and are looking to Congress for much-needed relief. With the help of those affected by these regulations, I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to limit overly-burdensome federal regulation.