Some background: In 2006, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that EPA must begin a permitting system for application of pesticides over or near bodies of water. Last year, EPA began requiring applicators to obtain Clean Water Act or NPDES permits for federally registered pesticides.

“This new permit provides virtually no environmental benefit because all pesticides are already stringently evaluated and approved for proper use, including considerations for impacts to water,” the CropLife America letter said.

“The permit exposes pesticide users to citizen law suits under the CWA, and permit compliance imposes serious resource burdens on thousands of small businesses, farms, municipalities, counties, and the state and federal agencies responsible for protecting public health. Clarification is needed that neither FIFRA nor the CWA requires permits for lawful pesticide applications.”

By its own estimates, EPA says the new permitting process will require thousands of hours and millions of dollars for completing paperwork for applying pesticides that have already undergone extensive regulatory review.

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Farm organizations have also expressed concern that anti-pesticide groups would also try to use the 6th Circuit ruling to file further litigation seeking permitting for all pesticide applications over land and bodies of water.

A second important provision of the House Agriculture Committee farm bill, H.R. 1947, is legislation establishing an efficient consultation process for pesticides that meets the requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Endangered Species Act and is not duplicative.

Under ESA, EPA is required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the NOAA Fisheries Service on biological opinions or biops. But neither of the services have demonstrated the level of knowledge of pesticides and their uses to issue intelligent opinions on the use of pesticides.

“This FARRM provision – Reforming Endangered Species Act Consultations for Pesticides, Title X, “Section 10012. Modification, Cancellation or Suspension on Basis of Biological Opinion” – would provide instruction to the federal agencies on engaging stakeholders and reconciling the two statutes in a manner aimed at implementing an efficient consultation process for pesticide registration and use, while maintaining species protections,” the letter said.