Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-DE) cosponsored a bipartisan bill to eliminate an unnecessary and costly Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation on pesticides that affects many of Delaware's farmers. Authored by Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), the Sensible Environmental Protection Act (SEPA) of 2013 is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators that also includes Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), David Vitter (R-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).
"Some people believe that we must choose between a cleaner environment and a stronger economy, but I couldn't disagree more," said Senator Carper. "We can have robust environmental protections that don't hamper the private sector's ability to create jobs as long as we're smart about implementing them efficiently and effectively. In everything I do, I know I can do better -- and the same is true of some federal regulations, like those affecting hard-working farmers in Delaware and across the country. This bill will help ease the burden of duplicative regulations on our farmers by reforming the pesticide permitting process in a responsible way that protects our health without wasting taxpayer dollars or straining our agricultural producers."
"Agriculture is a vital part of our state's economy and it is imperative that the federal government balance commonsense regulations that protect our natural resources with the needs of our local farmers," Senator Coons said. "This bill will fix a redundancy in our pesticide permitting system that is placing undue burdens on our farmers, state agencies, and local governments. While environmental regulations are necessary to protect the health and safety of our communities, we must ensure that they make sense and do the job they're intended to do without creating unnecessary burdens and costs."
For nearly 40 years, the EPA has implemented a comprehensive regulatory scheme for pesticide applications under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). According to the 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 pesticides applied in, over, or near water. The new permitting system went into effect on November 1, 2011.
SEPA clarifies that Clean Water Act permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water. The bill 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.
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 -- forcing states and localities to spend time and precious resources to comply with this unnecessary regulation.
SEPA is supported by 150 farming and forestry groups and state regulators from across the country, including: the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Agriculture Retailers Association, National Cotton Council, National Alliance of Forest Owners, United Fresh Produce Association and the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants.