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Public Statements

Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in favor of H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011. This legislation amends the Clean Water Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act ``FIFRA'', to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters.

* In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, promulgated a rule that codified EPA's longstanding interpretation that the application of pesticides for their intended purpose and in compliance with Pesticide label restrictions is not a discharge of a ``pollutant'' under the Clean Water Act, and therefore, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit would not be required. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated this rule in National Cotton Council v. EPA. In this case the Court required the EPA to develop a new NPDES permitting process under the Clean Water Act for the purposes of pesticide use. The Court-ordered deadline for EPA to promulgate the new permitting process for pesticides is April 9, 2011.

* As a result of this court decision, EPA estimates that approximately 365,000 pesticide users, including state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators, farmers, ranchers, forest managers, scientists, and everyday citizens that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually will be affected, doubling the number of entities currently subject to NPDES permitting under the Clean Water Act.

* Once the court order goes into effect, pesticide users not covered by an NPDES permit will be subject to a fine of up to $37,500 per day per violation. In addition to the cost of compliance, pesticide users will be subject to an increased risk of litigation under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act. The court ruling does not change any standards for pesticide regulation and provides no additional environmental or public health protection. It simply adds a layer of unnecessary and costly bureaucracy.

* This bill recognizes that pesticides are already regulated by the EPA under FIFRA and that any additional regulation would be burdensome and duplicative. I was proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation and support its passage through the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Unfortunately, I was unavoidably detained during the floor vote on this bill and was unable to cast my official vote in support of the measure. If I were present at the time of the vote, I would have proudly cast an ``Aye'' vote because we cannot continue to subject the agricultural community to increasingly burdensome regulations. I am pleased that Congress was able to act on this bill and

I look to the Senate for its expedited review and hope that the President will subsequently sign the measure into law. Our countries farmers deserve nothing less.

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