Passage by a committee of a Senate bill to ease some pesticide permit restrictions underscores the need for making some changes to the government’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The National Corn Growers Association is calling on Congress to pass legislation to withdraw the controversial WOTUS rule.
“This bill will cut some regulatory red tape out of the pesticide permitting process,” said Chip Bowling, NCGA President and a farmer from Maryland. “Anything we can do to cut Washington red tape will help farmers. This bill also underscores the problems with the EPA’s new Waters of the U.S. rule. The rule significantly expands the reach and power of the federal government over our farming operations. Every farm and ranch in America now has a WOTUS – and that means more paperwork, more permits, and more hassle, without actually water quality benefits. The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers must work with farmers to rewrite WOTUS.”
Historically, water quality concerns related to pesticide applications were addressed within the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, rather than a Clean Water Act permitting program. However, in 2009 a federal court ruled that pesticide users are required to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit under the Clean Water Act if the chemical is sprayed over, near, or into a body of water. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, all pesticides are reviewed and regulated for use with strict instructions on the EPA approved product label. A thorough review and accounting of impacts to water quality and aquatic species is included in every EPA review. Requiring water permits for pesticide applications is redundant and provides no additional environmental benefit.
The Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2015 (S. 1500), sponsored by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), would clarify that federal law does not require this redundant permit for already regulated pesticide applications.