Last week, two pesticide-related bills supported by NALP and other industry stakeholders sailed through the House Agriculture Committee. The committee passed both bills by voice vote in the first 10 minutes of the Committee meeting, and provided renewed hope that Congress will take much needed action to help ease the current regulatory burdens related to pesticide approval and use. If these pieces of regulation receive approval by both chambers of Congress, it is almost a certainty that President Trump will sign them into law.
Pesticide Registration Improvement Act
The first bill, H.R. 1029 would reauthorize the 2003 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA), which authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to collect fees from industry to license pesticides and review the safety of the chemicals. PRIA is intended to create a more predictable and effective evaluation process, promote shorter review periods for reduced-risk pesticides, and enhance scientific and regulatory activities related to worker protection.
The latest version of the legislation, introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), will allow the agency to raise up to $31 million—an increase from $27.8 million—to maintain the registrations of existing pesticides. For product registration service fees, there will be two scheduled 5 percent increases—one in 2019 and the second in 2021. The legislation is expected to pass before the current PRIA expires on Sept. 30.
Clean Water Act Exemptions
The committee also passed H.R. 953, a bill to reinstate Clean Water Act exemptions those who spray pesticides near or over water bodies. The bill was introduced by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio). The legislation would overturn a 2009 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that forced the EPA to require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which are intended to control pollution in protected waterways, for pesticide applications near water
NALP has long contended that the NPDES permitting process is unnecessary, duplicative of current regulations, costly and ultimately something that undermines public health. We view the water permits as duplicative, given that the EPA must consider pesticide effects on watersheds under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). This is the sixth year the committee has considered the legislation. Gibbs sought to attach the bill to a spending package to address the Zika virus last year, but President Barack Obama threatened to veto the aid if it included the pesticide rider and the provision was not included in the final package.