The U.S. Senate failed to act to address an Oct. 31 deadline regarding the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency's pesticide permitting rule. In March the House passed H.R. 872, which would have ensured that businesses are not subject to a costly and duplicative pesticide permitting requirement.
Under proposed draft legislation, approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators will need permits to cover about 5.6 million applications per year. EPA estimates the permit will cost states, local entities and pesticide applicators $50 million and require one million hours to implement per year. Under the Clean Water Act, unlawful discharges are subject to $37,500 per day in fines.
A statement from Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the requirement, set to take effect November 1, 2011, is of particular concern for public health officials who are now restricted in their ability to control mosquitoes, and the spread of diseases like the West Nile virus. It is also a significant issue for agriculture.
"The best way to eliminate uncertainty regarding pesticide applications is for the Senate to pass the bipartisan H.R. 872, which eliminates red tape, redundant permitting and burdensome costs," said Roberts, who is also the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee. "Attempts to use a moratorium to leverage a controversial and overly broad study that threatens agriculture production will only increase confusion facing our farmers, ranchers and state and local health agencies. It simply kicks the can down the road and creates controversy where there is existing bipartisan agreement. I cannot support this approach when a real solution, H.R. 872, is at hand and will solve the problem permanently."
House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., criticized the Senate for not acting earlier on the issue. "There are no winners today. Because this is a duplicative permit, there will be no additional environmental gains. The farmers, ranchers, and business owners who will be burdened with additional costs and paperwork from this duplicative permit will have less time and money to invest in jobs."