Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. serves small, medium, and large pesticide product registrants and other stakeholders in the agricultural and biocidal sectors, in virtually every aspect of pesticide law, policy, science, and regulation.
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By Lisa M. Campbell, James V. Aidala, and Margaret R. Graham

On July 18, 2017, four Senators (Tom Udall (D-NM); Benjamin Cardin (D-MD); Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); and Cory Booker (D-NJ)) submitted a letter to Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, regarding reauthorizing the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA), worker protections, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “legal duty to protect the public from unreasonable harm from pesticides.”  H.R. 1029, the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2017, which reauthorizes PRIA, was passed by the Agriculture Committee on February 16, 2017.  The letter states that it should include a “limited number of improvements” before being approved by the full Senate, including “adequately reflect[ing] important worker safety priorities” via “ensuring that the worker protection rules are implemented in a timely manner” and “finalizing the EPA staff recommended ban on chlorpyrifos.” The letter states the EPA’s decision to deny the petition to ban chlropyrifos should be “reversed immediately.”

More information on H.R. 1029 is available in our blog item House Agriculture Committee Passes Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017.

On July 25, 2017, Udall, Blumenthal, Booker, Cardin, and several other Senators introduced S. 1624, the Protect Children, Farmers, and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017, which prohibits the use of chlorpyrifos on food and directs EPA to enter into a contract with the National Research Council to “conduct a cumulative and aggregate risk assessment that addresses all populations, and the most vulnerable subpopulations, including infants, children, and fetuses, of exposure to organophosphate pesticides.”  S. 1624 proposes to amend Section 402 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to add to the list of adulterated food any food that “bears or contains chlorpyrifos, including any residue of chlorpyrifos, or any other added substance that is present on or in the food primarily as a result of the metabolism or other degradation of chlorpyrifos.”

Commentary

The Senate letter regarding issues with H.R. 1029 can possibly forestall the reauthorization of PRIA, which would cause many problems for EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), as the PRIA funds are necessary for OPP to operate the pesticide regulatory program.

Politically, the hiccup on PRIA reauthorization indicates a further acceleration of the partisan sniping already sapping the ability of the Senate to reach agreement on any subject.  PRIA contributes to EPA’s budget, with specific funds directed to support farmworker protection.  As such, it has not proven to be controversial in past reauthorization efforts.  PRIA represents an industry contribution to support EPA’s regulatory reviews and farmworker protection programs, and without it, EPA’s budget will face further cuts.  Normally, democratic members of Congress would be expected to be against further cuts to EPA and applaud the more robust regulatory regime supported by the regulated community’s own fees.

The chlorpyrifos legislation also portends a new, more hostile operating environment for the current leadership of EPA.  It has been years since action on specific pesticide products has seen a serious legislative proposal; generally Congress is reluctant to engage on a specific regulatory conclusion which has complex scientific disputes at its core.

Opposition to current EPA leadership and Administration agendas appears to be so intense that partisan bickering will surround almost any EPA-related initiative brought to the Senate floor.


 
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By Sheryl L. Dolan and Margaret R. Graham

On August 1, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of two final test method Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobial pesticides against two biofilm bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus):

EPA also released regulatory guidance for test criteria and pesticide claims for these products, specifically Guidance for Testing the Efficacy of Antimicrobial Products Against Biofilms on Hard, Non-Porous Surfaces.  Drafts of the SOPs and the guidance were initially released in October 2016 for comment.  EPA received comments from nine entities and revised the drafts to incorporate suggested changes.  EPA posted its response to those comments in Docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0357

EPA states that the two methods are adapted from ASTM International (ASTM) standard methods.  EPA MLB SOP MB-19 is used to generate the P. aeruginosa or S. aureus biofilm on coupons.  EPA MLB SOP MB-20, the Single Tube Method, then is used to determine the effectiveness of an antimicrobial product in reducing bacteria in biofilm on the coupons. 

Notable aspects of the test criteria and claims guidelines include:

  • The mean log density for the test organisms of 8.0 to 9.5 for P. aeruginosa and 7.5 to 9.0 for S. aureus; and
  • Product performance criterion of a minimum 6-log reduction.

The guidance lists several examples of claims for efficacy against public health biofilm that EPA states are acceptable.

EPA MLB SOP MB-20 is designed to evaluate the efficacy of antimicrobial products that are water soluble powders or liquid formulations.  If a company wishes to test a different type of product formulation, or test different target microorganisms, or make any other proposed modifications, it would be well advised to submit proposed alternatives to EPA for review and approval.  EPA specifically cautions that the current methodologies are intended for data development to support claims for products registered for use on hard, non-porous surfaces and are not suitable for use sites associated with water systems.

The EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs’ (OPP) regulation of biofilms has been the subject of increasingly intense commercial interest for years and the availability of this testing guidance is welcome news.  While not all will agree with the approach, the new guidance is a helpful addition to OPP’s testing guidance portfolio.  

More information on antimicrobial pesticides is available on our blog under key phrase Antimicrobial Pesticide.  More information on the methods and guidance is available on EPA’s website and in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0357.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, James V. Aidala, and Lisa R. Burchi

On July 20, 2017, the Trump Administration released its 2017 Unified Regulatory Agenda.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Agency Rule List included several pesticide rulemakings in the proposed rule stage, as well as the Certification of Pesticide Applicators rulemaking that is in the final rule stage.  The five items in the proposed rule stage are:

  1. RIN 2015-AA00:  Revision of Procedural Rules for Hearings on Cancellations, Suspensions, Changes in Classifications, and Denials of Pesticide Registrations.  The agenda states that this proposed rulemaking is a “revision of the Rules of Practice governing the conduct of licensing adjudications under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).”   The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for January 2018.
  2. RIN 2070-AK00:  Pesticides; Technical Amendments to Data Requirements.  The agenda states that to satisfy one of the commitments in a settlement agreement reached with the American Chemistry Council (Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0110-0139), EPA is proposing a correction pertaining to the 200 parts per billion (ppb) level described in 40 C.F.R. Section 158.2230(d) that was originally used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with respect to the “concentration of residues in or on food for tiering of data requirements for indirect food use biocides.”  Through this rulemaking, the agenda states that EPA intends to “clarify that the 200 ppb level is based on total estimated daily dietary intake for an individual and not on the amount of residue present on a single food.”   The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for July 2017.
  3. RIN 2070-AK06:  Pesticides; Procedural Rule Amendment; Requirement for Certain Pesticide Actions to Publish Notices in the Federal Register.  In the agenda, EPA states that as the as the Federal Register is “no longer the most cost effective or efficient way for providing notice or sharing information with the public,” it is considering changing the way that it provides notice on or shares information with the public -- specifically, by no longer publishing certain information in the Federal Register, but instead providing the same information on a consolidated website which the agenda states “will be more accessible to the public and other interested parties, as well as a more cost effective and efficient mechanism for providing timely updates.”  The agenda lists the following kinds of notification it is considering making this change regarding: (1) reregistration of a pesticide product with a new active ingredient or new use; (2) announcing approvals of specific, quarantine and public health exemptions; and (3) Summaries of certain state registrations.  For Registration Review, the agenda state that EPA “intends to announce availability of the documents that are currently announced in the Federal Register on the EPA's Registration Review Website.”  For notices of availability announced in the Federal Register, the agenda states that “EPA intends to direct the public to a case-specific docket on Regulations.gov to view pertinent registration review documents and provide comment.”  The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for April 2018.
  4. RIN 2070-AK40:  Extension of Compliance Date(s); Agricultural Worker Protection Standard.  As reported in our memoranda summarizing the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) final rule, EPA Publishes Worker Protection Standard Final Rule, the WPS final rule was issued on November 2, 2015, but has not yet been made effective.  More information on the delay of its effective date is available in our blog item EPA to Delay Agricultural WPS Indefinitely; Cites Issues with Guidance and Training.  This proposed rulemaking will adjust the compliance date.  The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for July 2017 and the issuance of the final rule is scheduled for November 2017.
  5. RIN 2080-AA13:  Updates to 40 C.F.R. § 26 Subpart K to reflect recent changes to 40 C.F.R. Subpart A (The Common Rule).  As reported in our blog item Federal Agencies Announce Revision to Modernize Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, on January 19, 2017, EPA, together with a host of other federal agencies, released a final rule to modernize, strengthen, and make more effective the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects that was originally promulgated as a Common Rule in 1991, and is now codified in 40 C.F.R. § 26, Subpart A.  These revisions, scheduled to become effective on January 19, 2018, will create a conflict within some of the EPA-specific subparts, in particular, Subpart K of 40 C.F.R. 26 (Basic Ethical Requirements for Third-Party Human Research for Pesticides Involving Intention Exposure of Non-Pregnant, Non-Nursing Adults) which regulates third party pesticide research.  The agenda states that this proposed rulemaking is “intended to resolve proposed rulemaking discrepancies created by the recent revision to Subpart A, and will not alter the fundamental protections for human subjects, including vulnerable populations.”  The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for January 2018.

The two items in the final rule stage are:

  1. RIN 2070-AJ20:  Pesticides; Certification of Pesticide Applicators.  As reported in our memoranda summarizing the Certification of Pesticide Applicators’ final rule, Final EPA Rule Requires Stronger Standards for Applying Riskiest Pesticides, the final rule was issued on January 4, 2017.  More information on the delay of its effective date is available in our blog item EPA Delays Effective Date of Certification of Pesticide Applicators Final Rule.  On June 2, 2017, a Federal Register publication was issued that delayed the effective date until May 22, 2018.
  2. RIN 2070-AK13:  Procedural Rule to Remove Obsolete Information.  The agenda states that this final rule will remove information from EPA’s existing pesticide regulations that is now out of date or obsolete and will “provide clearer and more reliable information to those seeking to register a pesticide product.”  The agenda further states that as rulemaking is intended to be a non-substantive, procedural rulemaking “since the EPA does not intend to make any substantive changes to the existing requirements,” EPA is considering issuing this as a final rule and not going through the notice and comment period.  The issuance of the final rule is scheduled for January 2018.

Commentary

Much of the work noted emphasizes potential procedural efficiencies and clarifications.  The potential move to more announcements on the websites and away from the Federal Register is, at least in part, likely intended as a cost-saving measure.  It is also a change that will be closely watched.  For example, in recent years, EPA has seen registrations challenged based on assertions of an alleged lack of appropriate notice concerning the receipt or processing of registration applications, and these past challenges will likely influence any new procedures that EPA may adopt. 

Of more interest is the new Administration’s call for suggestions of what rules or policies should be changed as part of a broader push for economic growth and less regulatory costs, which may result in more substantive regulatory changes and some likely controversial decisions about what rules or programs will be modified or eliminated -- but that exercise is not part of this announcement.  The delay in the compliance date for the WPS regulation is more substantive, but changes that may be proposed have not yet been announced.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Lisa R. Burchi, and James V. Aidala

On July 18, 2017, a panel of three judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order denying petitioners’ Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Petitioners) Motion for Further Mandamus in the chlorpyrifos proceedings.  In that motion, Petitioners asked the court to grant further mandamus relief, asserting that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) denial of Petitioners’ petition to revoke all food tolerances and cancel all chlorpyrifos registrations was inadequate because it contained “no new safety findings” and no “final determination as to whether chlorpyifos food tolerances must be revoked.”  More information on the motion is available in our blog item Petitioners File Motion for Further Mandamus Relief in Response to EPA’s Order Denying Petition to Ban Chlorpyrifos.

In its order, the panel held that since the prior mandamus proceedings “addressed the timing, not the substance, of EPA’s response,” EPA had “complied with the panel’s previous orders by issuing a ‘final response to the petition.’”  The mandamus motion thus was “premature, and its substantive objections to the EPA’s denial must first be made through the administrative process mandated by statute.”

The demand imposed by the court earlier was to make a decision, and EPA met that deadline with its denial.  This is a significant win for industry, but is far from the end of this debate, which will continue in a number of different forums.  More information on the proceedings is available on our blog under key word chlorpyrifos.

 


 
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By Lisa R. Burchi, Timothy D. Backstrom, and James V. Aidala

On June 30, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its opinion in Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Case No. 14-1036, resolving jurisdictional and substantive issues following complaints alleging that EPA violated Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to make an effects determination or to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) before registering cyantraniliprole (CTP) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Regarding the jurisdictional issue and the appropriate court in which to bring such a challenge, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on May 14, 2015, had dismissed the ESA complaint of CBD, the Center for Food Safety, and the Defenders of Wildlife (Conservation Groups), finding that the Conservation Groups’ “Complaint gives rise to an ‘actual controversy as to the validity’ of the FIFRA Registration Order and is therefore governed by that Act’s jurisdictional grant.”  The D.C. Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court’s ruling to dismiss the ESA petition on jurisdictional grounds, concluding that FIFRA “grants the court of appeals exclusive jurisdiction to review an ESA claim that is ‘inextricably intertwined’ with a challenge to a pesticide registration order.”

The D.C. Circuit also, however, granted the Conservation Groups’ FIFRA petition, finding that EPA registered CTP without having made an effects determination or consulting with the FWS and/or the NMFS as required under ESA Section 7(a)(2).  The court remanded the case to EPA for further proceedings, but allowed the CTP registration order to remain in effect until it is replaced by an order consistent with the court’s opinion.

Considering the growing number of complaints that allege a failure to consult with the FWS and/or the NMFS under the ESA, this decision could have broad reaching implications for how these complaints are filed and reviewed.

Background

On February 29, 2012, EPA announced that it had received applications to register pesticide products containing CTP under FIFRA.  On June 6, 2013, EPA announced its proposal to register CTP as a pesticide under FIFRA.  As part of its review, EPA prepared an “Environmental Fate and Ecological Risk Assessment for the Registration of the New Chemical Cyantraniliprole” in which EPA states that CTP is “highly toxic or very highly toxic” to multiple taxonomic groups, including terrestrial invertebrates such as butterflies and beetles.

On January 24, 2014, EPA registered CTP as a pesticide under FIFRA and approved fourteen end-use products containing CTP.  At issue in this case was EPA’s decision to register CTP without having made an effects determination or consulting with the FWS and/or the NMFS as required by ESA Section 7(a)(2) and implementing regulations (50 C.F.R. § 402.13-14).

Under the ESA citizen-suit provision, “any person” may “commence a civil suit on his own behalf … to enjoin any person, including the United States and any other governmental instrumentality or agency … who is alleged to be in violation of any provision of this chapter or regulation issued under the authority thereof.” 16 U.S.C. § 1540(g)(1).  “The district courts … have jurisdiction” of ESA citizen suits, id., but no action may be commenced “prior to sixty days after written notice of the violation has been given to the Secretary, and to any alleged violator.” Id. § 1540(g)(2)(A)(i).

FIFRA’s citizen-suit provision at 7 U.S.C. § 136n(b) provides the federal circuit court with exclusive jurisdiction to affirm or set aside an EPA pesticide registration order following a public hearing, provided a challenge is filed within 60 days of the registration decision.

With potentially conflicting statutory provisions regarding the court in which to file a complaint and the timing to do so, the Conservation Groups initiated two actions:  a complaint against EPA in D.C. District Court under the ESA’s citizen-suit provision; and a petition for review in D.C. Circuit Court pursuant to FIFRA’s citizen-suit provision.

Jurisdictional Issues

The D.C. Circuit first addressed the jurisdiction issue, which involved a determination of standing and a resolution of the “dueling jurisdictional provisions of the ESA and of FIFRA.”

On the issue of standing, the D.C. Circuit found that petitioners did in fact have standing, as not only did EPA make procedural omissions through “its failure to make an effects determination and to consult,” but the plaintiffs show that EPA’s failure affected the plaintiffs’ members’ “concrete aesthetic and recreational interests.” 

With regard to the appropriate court in which to bring this claim, the D.C. Circuit found that “FIFRA vests the courts of appeals with exclusive jurisdiction over controversies arising from an EPA pesticide registration, so long as, inter alia, registration follows a public hearing.”  The court thus also found:

  • Because FIFRA’s grant of exclusive jurisdiction to the court of appeals to review registration orders is more specific than the ESA’s citizen-suit provision, we believe the Conservation Groups must bring their ESA section 7(a)(2) challenge to us if 7 U.S.C. § 136n(b) is satisfied.  And the Conservation Groups do satisfy the requirements of 7 U.S.C. § 136n(b): they are adversely affected by the registration of CTP; they challenge the validity of the CTP registration order based on the EPA’s failure to make an effects determination and to consult; and their challenge comes after a “public hearing” by way of three notice and comment periods.  We therefore have “exclusive jurisdiction” to review their claim under FIFRA and the district court correctly dismissed their ESA citizen suit. (citations omitted).

Merits

While the ESA citizen suit was dismissed, the FIFRA citizen suit remained under the D.C. Circuit’s exclusive jurisdiction and review.  The court found that EPA violated ESA Section 7(a)(2) by registering CTP before making an effects determination or consulting with the FWS or the NMFS.

Significantly, the court decided to remand the case to EPA for further proceedings without vacating the CTP registration.  The court stated that remand without vacatur is appropriate in this case because “[n]otwithstanding the EPA’s failure to make an effects determination and to engage in any required consultation, it did not register CTP in total disregard of the pesticide’s potential deleterious effects; indeed, the Conservation Groups themselves rely heavily on the EPA’s ‘Ecological Risk Assessment for the Registration of the New Chemical Cyantraniliprole.’”  The court further stated that “allowing the EPA’s CTP registration order to remain in effect until it is replaced by an order consistent with our opinion will maintain ‘enhanced protection of the environmental values covered by the CTP registration order.’”

Commentary

This case is significant in at least two respects and should have implications in other cases being brought under ESA and FIFRA citizen suit petitions.  First, the court provides the same answer concerning the “dueling jurisdictional provisions of the ESA and of FIFRA” as prior decisions in the Ninth Circuit, finding that FIFRA’s jurisdictional grounds take precedence and that the Courts of Appeal have exclusive jurisdiction to review cases claiming ESA violations in the context of an approved FIFRA pesticide registration.  The court found the Conservation Groups’ arguments to the contrary “unavailing,” including but not limited to their argument that the public notice and comment periods that were provided did not constitute a “public hearing” under FIFRA Section 16(b) as well as their argument that the ESA challenge was not “inextricably intertwined” with FIFRA, even though the Conservation Groups were challenging the CTP registration order itself.  It also is significant that the court, while remanding the registration order to EPA for further actions under the ESA, did not immediately vacate the existing CTP registration order.

Some observers of the extensive ESA-FIFRA litigation over recent years wondered whether the CTP registrations would be vacated once challenged for conformity to ESA requirements.  EPA effectively admitted that it did not follow the full consultation process with FWS and NMFS, in this case substituting a relative risk argument that CTP was an improvement that would provide more species protection compared to the compounds it is expected to replace in the marketplace.  The remand without vacatur does not resolve what some have called the “train wreck” scenario, where the need to complete ESA consultation, combined with time and resource constraints at the respective agencies, will result in a virtual freeze on new pesticide product registrations.  The court makes it clear that, if EPA makes an affirmative ESA effects determination for CTP, consultation with the FWS and/or the NMFS must follow.


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

In June 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) National Program Manager Guidance for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2019, which sets forth the strategies and actions that EPA and its state and tribal partners will undertake to protect human health and the environment via six key programmatic activities.  EPA uses an Annual Commitment System (ACS) to track annual regional performance information and results.  Below is a listing of the six programmatic activities and their ACS measures, if applicable:

  1. Strengthening state and tribal partnerships through continued effective management of pesticide cooperative agreements.  The guidance states that the “National Pesticide Program depends on cooperative agreements with states and tribes to implement many of the requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and to help ensure [EPA’s] regulatory decisions and programs achieve intended protections.  For the ACS measure, the commitment target is 100 percent of pesticide program required activities included in grantee work plans completed under pesticide program portion of the FIFRA Grant Guidance.  More information on the activities is listed in the guidance.
  2. Assisting in national, regional, and local pollinator protection efforts.  EPA states that “through risk assessment, mitigation, education, and outreach, EPA’s Office of Pesticides Programs’ goal for pollinator protection is to ensure all pollinators, including managed pollinators such as honey bees, and native pollinator including Monarch Butterflies, are protected from adverse effects of pesticide exposure.”  More information on the activities is listed in the guidance.  EPA is not proposing any ACS measures to be associated with this area of focus for FY2018-2019.
  3. Effectively implementing the revised pesticides worker protection standard rule.  More information on this rule is available on our blog under key phrase Worker Protection Standard.  EPA states that no ACS measure is proposed to be associated with this area of focus for FY2018-2019 to “allow regional offices the flexibility to direct their efforts where they are most needed, and to select the activities and level of effort appropriate for the needs of their region.”
  4. Effectively implementing the revised certification of pesticide applicators rule.  Same as above, EPA states that no ACS measure is proposed to be associated with this area of focus for FY2018-2019 to “allow regional offices the flexibility to direct their efforts where they are most needed, and to select the activities and level of effort appropriate for the needs of their region.”  More information on this rule is available on our blog under key phrase pesticide applicators.
  5. Focusing region-specific pesticide priorities on those areas of greatest need nationally.  EPA states that region-specific pesticide priority areas “support the agency’s national pesticide program efforts. In addition, these projects support one or more of the agency’s Strategic Plan goals and strategies, and directly benefit states and/or tribes.  The region-specific pesticide priority areas to choose from are: (1) promotion of state and tribal pesticide program coordination and communication; (2) bed bug outreach and assistance; (3) promotion, development or support of integrated pest management efforts; (4) support of water quality risk assessment and mitigation; (5) spray drift outreach and incident data collection; and (6) support of emerging public health pesticide issues.  The ACS measure commitment target is one project or initiative contributing to the implementation and enhancement of the region-specific pesticide program priority areas.
  6. Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).  For the TRI program, EPA includes three ACS measures on the number of TRI data quality checks:
  • The TRI-1 measure allows EPA to track performance of the TRI program, and aid in improving the accuracy and reliability of environmental data.  This measure will provide valuable information as more than 21,000 facilities report to the TRI program annually.
  • For FY2018, TRI-1 is a non-commitment measure of data quality calls and emails to 600 facilities in total across all regional offices.
  • For FY2019, TRI-1 will be a commitment measure of data quality calls and email to 600 facilities in total across all regional offices.

 
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By J. Brian Xu, M.D., Ph.D., DABT®

On June 1, 2017, in the People’s Republic of China (China), the newly revised Regulation on Pesticide Administration (RPA) became effective.  The newly revised RPA was approved during the 164th executive meeting of the State Council of China on February 8, 2017, and published as Decree Number 677 of the State Council of China (China Decree 677) on April 1, 2017.  It requires the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to formulate relevant rules and measures for its implementation.

The first set of five implementation rules was initially released for public comment on March 17, 2017, and made final on June 21, 2017.  The five implementation rules include:   Pesticide Registration Management Measures (MOA Order No. 3, 2017), Measures for the Management of Pesticide Production License (MOA Order No. 4, 2017), Measures for the Administration of Pesticide Business License (MOA Order No. 5, 2017), Measures for the Management of Tests Used for Pesticide Registration (MOA Order No. 6, 2017), and Measures for the Administration of Pesticide Labels and Manuals (MOA Order No. 7, 2017).  They will become effective on August 1, 2017.

On June 30, 2017, the MOA released the second set of six implementation rules for public comment under the new RPA, which include Data Requirements on Pesticide Registration (Draft); List of Pesticides with Restricted Uses (Draft);  Measures for the Management of QR Code Pesticide Label (Draft); Review Rules of Pesticide Production License (Draft); Review Rules of the Test Institutes that Conduct Tests Used for Pesticide Registration (Draft); and Quality Management Practices of Tests Used for Pesticide Registration (Draft).  The comment period will end on July 30, 2017, but an implementation date was not provided.

Commentary

The MOA Order No. 3, 2017 requires that chemistry and toxicology tests should be completed in Chinese laboratories approved by the MOA or overseas laboratories that have a mutual recognition agreement with the relevant Chinese Authority, and that the tests for efficacy, residue, environment, and others that are closely related to environmental conditions and Chinese specific species shall be conducted in China.  Since China is not a member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) system, this requirement could reject all test reports from overseas for pesticide registration in China.

The requirements that literature or data in a foreign language shall be translated to Chinese are moved from the Pesticide Registration Management Measures (Draft) to the new Data Requirements on Pesticide Registration (Draft), but it is still not clear if whole articles/reports or only summaries should be translated into Chinese.  In addition, the new Data Requirements on Pesticide Registration (Draft) would add a new category of registration, “Pesticides for Overseas Uses Only.”  The registration of “Pesticides for Overseas Uses Only” requires only chemistry and toxicology data for the products at issue; the data that must be submitted include information on the production process, component analysis, quality specifications and analytical methods, acute “six-pack,” Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI), Acute Reference Dose (ARfD), and other safety and toxicology information.  The new draft rules would not require any efficacy, residue, or environment tests for registration of “Pesticides for Overseas Uses Only.”  The timeline for the second set of six implementation rules under the new RPA is not provided.  Considering it took only three months for the first set of five implementation measures to proceed from drafts for public comments to final versions that will become effective about one and half a months later (August 1, 2017), it is expected that the second set of six implementation rules will become effective by the end of the year.

The new RPA and its implementation rules significantly change registrations for pesticides in China.  Temporary pesticide registration is no longer an option, and pesticide registration now requires a full set of data, including two-year stability data in the initial submission, and requires that many of the tests must be conducted in China.  With these new requirements, the new pesticide registration process may extend the time for manufacturers to bring products to the Chinese market.  Because of many ambiguities in the new RPA and its implementation rules, many questions and uncertainties regarding the process for pesticide registration under the new RPA remain.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Timothy D. Backstrom, and James V. Aidala

A noteworthy development in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ongoing and controversial consideration of the potential use of epidemiological data in its pesticide risk assessments occurred on May 25, 2017, when EPA placed in the public dockets for certain organophosphate (OP) pesticides an “update” of the September 15, 2015, Literature Review and Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) determination, along with a response to comments on the original document.  These documents were signed by EPA scientists on December 29, 2016, prior to the new Administration, but were placed in the docket only last month, under the new Administration.  The documents attempt to rebut the various criticisms of EPA’s assessment of the epidemiology studies for chlorpyrifos and the original FQPA safety factor determination for OP pesticides, and they reaffirm the policy embodied in the original Literature Review.  Because these new documents were signed in the last days of the Obama Administration, they may be viewed by some industry stakeholders as an effort by some at EPA to “lock in” the prior policy concerning OP pesticides.

The public release of the “updated” Literature Review and response to comments must be considered in the context of the ongoing chlorpyrifos battles that have received significant public attention.  During the five months between the date that these “update” documents were signed and the date that EPA placed them in the public docket, EPA Administrator Pruitt issued a decision on March 29, 2017, to deny the petition filed by the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requesting that EPA revoke all tolerances and cancel all registrations for chlorpyrifos products.  See EPA Denies Petition to Ban Chlorpyrifos.  In his denial decision, Administrator Pruitt concluded it would be appropriate for EPA to defer determining whether chlorpyrifos is likely to cause neurodevelopmental effects at exposure levels below the levels that cause acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibition until the completion of the registration review process for chlorpyrifos.  Administrator Pruitt based his decision on the premise that “the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved” and that “significant uncertainty … exists regarding the potential for chlorpyrifos to cause adverse neurodevelopmental effects.”

Some industry stakeholders may argue that the decision by the EPA scientists who prepared the “updated” Literature Review which concluded that EPA should retain the 10X FQPA uncertainty factor for OP pesticides can be reconciled with Administrator Pruitt’s subsequent denial decision, because the “updated” FQPA safety factor determination does not preclude further scientific discussion concerning the potential for neurodevelopmental effects from OP pesticide exposures.  On the other hand, other industry stakeholders may be concerned about the immediate adverse impact of this “updated” FQPA determination on the risk assessments prepared by EPA for OP pesticides and the measures that will be demanded by EPA to mitigate purported risks.

On April 5, 2017, PANNA and NRDC responded to Administrator Pruitt’s March 29, 2017, decision to deny their petition to revoke the tolerances and cancel the registrations for chlorpyrifos by submitting to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a Motion for Further Mandamus Relief.  That motion was substantially based on the premise that EPA does not “suggest that it has reconsidered its finding that chlorpyrifos is unsafe.”  The briefing on the new mandamus motion was completed on May 5, 2017, several weeks before EPA disclosed the documents concerning the “updated” FQPA determination.  Nevertheless, petitioners could try to argue that these documents constitute further evidence supporting their key premise that EPA has not actually revisited its prior determination that chlorpyrifos exposures are unsafe.

The legal and policy issues posed by EPA’s evaluation of the epidemiological data for chlorpyrifos and by EPA’s determination that these data create sufficient uncertainty to warrant retention of the FQPA 10X safety factor for all OP pesticides will be a continued source of controversy, and will be watched with interest by all stakeholders.

More information and updates on chlorpyrifos, the epidemiological data, and their surrounding legal issues is available on our blog item under keyword chlorpyrifos.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Timothy D. Backstrom, and James V. Aidala

On June 22, 2017, a complaint was filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by American Oversight, a nonprofit organization (Plaintiff), in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  The complaint asks the court to compel EPA to provide information in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by the Plaintiff on April 11, 2017, “seeking communications between certain individuals at each agency and certain outside entities related to chlorpyrifos or other pesticides.”  The records requested included:   (1) a copy of any decision memoranda and attachments associated with the decision to deny the petition to ban chlorpyrifos; and (2) all communications between certain individuals involved with EPA’s Administration as well as certain transition team members, and the following listed entities:

  • Any agricultural or other trade group with an interest in pesticides, including but not limited to CropLife, the American Farm Bureau, the National Corn Growers, or the Oklahoma Farm Bureau;
  • Any pesticide manufacturer or anyone acting on behalf of a pesticide manufacturer, including but not limited to Dow Chemical or Dow AgroSciences;
  • Any member of Congress or anyone acting on behalf of a member of Congress (including both personal and committee staff) regarding agricultural issues or pesticides; and
  • Any think tanks, including but not limited to the Heritage Foundation, regarding agricultural issues or pesticides.

The complaint asserts that although EPA responded to the FOIA request by stating that it was “proceeding with the search,” EPA “has not taken any additional actions,” and as of June 14, 2017, had not provided any of the requested records.  Plaintiff claims that EPA has failed to comply with the applicable time-limit provisions of FOIA and the complaint contains two Counts:  Count I:  Failure to Conduct Adequate Search for Responsive Records; and Count II:  Wrongful Witholding of Non-Exempt Records.  Based on these alleged violations, Plaintiff asks the court to order EPA to conduct a search reasonably calculated to uncover all records responsive to the FOIA request; order EPA to produce any and all non-exempt records responsive to the FOIA request and indexes justifying the withholding of any responsive records withheld under claim of exemption; and enjoin EPA from continuing to withhold any and all non-exempt records responsive to the FOIA request.

This Plaintiff appears to be seeking the responsive records to demonstrate that some kind of untoward or inappropriate communication occurred between the incoming Administration and outside groups leading to the chlorpyrifos petition response that allowed continued use of chlorpyrifos products, pending the completion of the registration review process.  Given the record that the Obama Administration constructed to propose the revocation of the chlorpyrifos tolerances, environmental advocates were disappointed that the new EPA leadership decided to postpone a decision.  EPA in its petition response articulated its rationale for its decision, but the Plaintiff may believe that these documents would likely show the “politics” behind the decision.  This is somewhat ironic since many stakeholders in the agricultural user community are convinced that the initial proposal to revoke chlorpyrifos tolerances issued during the prior Administration was itself an example of “politics over science.”

In this instance, it does not appear that EPA has made any determination yet whether any of the requested records are exempt from disclosure.  Moreover, the Plaintiff appears to be seeking decision memoranda and communications between EPA employees and other parties outside of EPA; this fact could affect EPA’s consideration of the applicability of the “deliberative process” privilege set forth in FOIA Exemption 5 to try to withhold any of the requested records, an issue that could be controversial. 

The Plaintiffs contend that EPA has not met the mandatory time limits applicable to a FOIA request.  This is a common problem, particularly when multiple individuals must participate in the search for responsive records, the records requested are voluminous, or exempt material like confidential commercial information must be redacted from otherwise responsive records.  Unless EPA ultimately determines that some records can and should be withheld, and Plaintiff disagrees, this suit may become moot in the event that EPA produces the requested documents before the case can be adjudicated.  Regardless of the outcome, Plaintiff has succeeded in keeping EPA’s controversial chlorpyrifos decision in the spotlight. 


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell and Margaret R. Graham

On June 14, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of a final test guideline, Laboratory Product Performance Testing Methods for Bed Bug Pesticide Products; OCSPP Test Guideline 810.3900, part of a series of test guidelines established by the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) for use in testing pesticides and chemical substances.  82 Fed. Reg. 27254.  EPA states that this test guideline provides “guidance for conducting a study to determine pesticide product performance against bed bugs, and is used by EPA, the public, and companies that submit data to EPA,” and “recommendations for the design and execution of laboratory studies to evaluate the performance of pesticide products intended to repel, attract, and/or kill the  common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) in connection with registration of pesticide products under the [Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)].”  EPA states that this guidance applies to products “in any formulation such as a liquid, aerosol, fog, or impregnated fabric, if intended to be applied to have a pesticidal purpose such as to attract, repel, or kill bed bugs.”  This guideline provides appropriate laboratory study designs and methods for evaluating the product performance of pesticides against bed bugs and includes statistical analysis and reporting.

EPA issued the draft guideline on February 14, 2012.  This original document was the subject of FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) review conducted on March 6-7, 2012.  EPA indicates that the final version of the guideline reflects revisions to the original draft based on comments from the SAP and the public.  EPA states that the revisions include the following:

  • Decreasing the number of individuals and replicates tested;
  • Rescinding the recommendation to test each field strain for its resistance ratio; and including a resistance management statement;
  • Clarifying the agency's Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) requirements;
  • Reducing the recommended length of time individuals are exposed to insecticides;
  • Recommending individuals to be observed up to 96 hours after treatment; and
  • Revising the statistical analyses recommendations.

EPA has also placed two other relevant documents in the docket:


 
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By J. Brian Xu, M.D., Ph.D., DABT®

On June 1, 2017, in the People’s Republic of China (China), a newly revised Regulation on Pesticide Administration (RPA) became effective.  The newly revised RPA was approved during the 164th executive meeting of the State Council of China on February 8, 2017 and published as Decree Number 677 of the State Council of China (in Chinese only) (China Decree 677) on April 1, 2017.

The first version of the RPA became effective on May 8, 1997, and was revised on November 29, 2001, by China Decree 326.  China Decree 677 makes significant changes to the current version of RPA (China Decree 326), and requires the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to formulate relevant rules and measures for its implementation.  The revised RPA includes eight chapters:  General Provisions; Pesticide Registration; Production of Pesticides; Distribution of Pesticides; Uses of Pesticides; Supervision and Management; Legal Liability; and Supplementary Provisions.

On March 17, 2017, the MOA released five implementation measures for public comments (in Chinese only) but did not provide an implementation date.  The measures include:  Pesticide Registration Management Measures (Draft); Measures for the Management of Pesticide Production License (Draft); Measures for the Administration of Pesticide Business License (Draft); Measures for the Administration of Pesticide Labels and Manuals (Draft); and Measures for the Management of Tests Used for Pesticide Registration (Draft).

The new RPA is intended to:  streamline the administration process; implement licensing systems for pesticide production and distribution; promote the reduction of pesticide uses and enhance the management of highly toxic pesticides; clarify the responsibilities of manufacturers, sponsors of the contracted manufacturers, and distributors for the safety, efficacy, and quality of pesticides; establish pesticide recall and pesticide waste recycling systems; and prevent and punish the adulteration of pesticides.  The new RPA also revises the registration process and labeling requirements of pesticides, removes temporary pesticide registration, includes increased fines and blacklisting, and requires that manufacturers and distributors/retailers of pesticides establish a tracking system and maintain the required records for at least two years.

Commentary

The new RPA significantly changed registrations for pesticides in China.  Temporary pesticide registration is no longer an option.  There were two registration review committees:  the Temporary Pesticide Registration Review Committee that held a review meeting every two months; and the Full Pesticide Registration Review Committee that held a review meeting every six months, before the new RPA became effective.  The two committees are being replaced by the National Pesticide Registration Review Committee, but no frequency of review meetings was provided.  It is expected that the National Pesticide Registration Review Committee will meet less frequently than once every two months, which may result in a longer timeline for review and approval.  Without temporary pesticide registrations, a full set of data will be required with every pesticide registration, including two-year stability data in the initial submission.  Therefore, the new pesticide registration process may extend the time for manufacturers to bring products to the Chinese market.

The new RPA requires the foreign registration of active ingredients; possibly new formulations will obtain the registration in another country before registering it in China.

In addition, the Pesticide Registration Management Measures (Draft) requires that chemistry and toxicology tests should be completed in laboratories approved by the MOA or overseas laboratories maintaining mutual recognition agreements with the Chinese Government and complying with Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), and that efficacy, residue, and environment tests shall be conducted in China.  Since China is not a member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Mutual Acceptance of Data (MAD) system, this proposed requirement could reject all test reports from overseas for pesticide registration in China.  It also requires that literature or data in a foreign language shall be translated to Chinese, but is not clear if the whole article/reports or only the summary should be translated into Chinese.  The timeline for new data requirements on pesticide registration under the new RPA is not provided.  Many questions for pesticide registration under the new RPA remain.


 
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By Lisa M. Campbell, Jason E. Johnston, M.S., and James V. Aidala

On May 25, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of ecological risk assessments for four neonicotinoid active ingredients for public comment as well as the Registration Review Update for Four Neonicotinoid Insecticides (Update).  82 Fed. Reg. 24113.  The ecological risk assessments are:

EPA states that public comments “could address, among other things, the Agency’s risk assessment methodology and assumptions applied to its draft risk assessments, such as its methodology for estimating colony-level risk to bees from exposure to bee bread.”  Comments on the three ecological risk assessments are due by July 24, 2017

The main focus of the Update document is EPA’s efforts to harmonize the risk assessment and management of the four neonicotinoids during registration review.  EPA has identified additional pollinator exposure data and pollinator toxicity data needs; registrants have committed to producing the needed data, and most of the data will be submitted in 2017.  EPA plans to produce final pollinator risk assessments for both agricultural and non-agricultural uses in 2018.  Release of non-pollinator risk assessments (i.e., aquatic organisms, terrestrial mammals, and birds) is planned for 2017.  Human health risk assessments are also scheduled to be issued in 2017.  EPA has stated that mitigating risk from the uses of all neonicotinoids may be considered for all four compounds at the same time to ensure consistent risk management and to prevent unnecessary shifts in usage between the compounds without a reduction in risk.  EPA intends to release final pollinator assessments and proposed interim decisions for registration review for all four neonicotinoids in 2018.

Commentary

From the EPA website, the following general statement summarizes what EPA has found so far:

  • The assessments for clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran, similar to the preliminary pollinator assessment for imidacloprid showed:  most approved uses do not pose significant risks to bee colonies.  However, spray applications to a few crops, such as cucumbers, berries, and cotton, may pose risks to bees that come in direct contact with residue.

To some degree, it is reassuring that widespread adoption of the neonicotinoid products appears not to be an overwhelming or altogether unanticipated risk to pollinators.  For insecticides, that foliar spray applications could be harmful is not good news, as any direct contact of an insect (bees) and insecticides usually is not good for the health of the insect. 

Another point some may find reassuring is that EPA has not found seed treatment with neonicotinoid products to be of significant risk.  This is ironic to some degree, since one of the fundamental assumptions not long ago among many beekeepers was that the seed treatment products were a singular and significant cause of the increase in colony decline and loss. 

EPA’s description of the registration review status of these products also indicates that a great volume of additional data concerning possible pollinator risks is due to arrive over the next six to 18 months.  Obviously, the results of these additional studies will fundamentally inform the EPA risk assessment conclusions.  At the same time, one legacy of the Obama Administration in this space, the development of state Manage Pollinator Protection Plans (MP3), also will be impacted by what EPA discovers from this volume of soon-to-arrive data.

Until then, and until the new political leadership of the agency indicates any direction on pollinator issues, it is unclear whether the pollinator issue will remain one of the priority issues for program attention, or be folded into the general timeline and normal course or registration review over the next few years.  


 
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By Jason E. Johnston, M.S.

On May 31, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of its Food Contact Sanitizing Solutions Model (FCSSM), a pesticide risk assessment model that has been developed to “estimate indirect dietary exposure to components of sanitizing solutions used in commercial settings.”  EPA states that “the model offers guidance for estimating exposure where there may be inadvertent transfer of residue to edible items prepared or transported on surfaces treated with these pesticides.”  The model consists of spreadsheets that automatically calculate dietary exposure and risk estimates based on data entered by the user.  The model estimates exposures to antimicrobial active ingredients listed under 40 C.F.R. § 180.940(b) and 40 C.F.R. § 180.940(c), where 940(b) includes uses in dairy processing equipment and food processing equipment and utensils, while 940(c) excludes dairy processing equipment.  FCSSM does not apply to active ingredients listed under 40 C.F.R. § 180.940(a), which are used on food contact surfaces in public eating places as well as dairy and food processing equipment.  For this case, EPA’s established methodology remains in place.  Compared to the simple calculation method used previously for these use scenarios, the major new feature of the FCSSM is the separate calculations of both acute and chronic dietary exposures for the general U.S. population and eight subpopulations.  EPA also released a user guide that provides background information on the model and familiarizes users with the inputs required to run the model.

More information about the FCSSM as well as other models used for pesticide risk assessments is available on EPA’s website


 
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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

On May 30, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit responded to two petitions for review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) conditional registration of a nanosilver pesticide product and vacated the conditional registration.  NRDC v. EPA, No. 15-72308.  The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as well as the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) filed petitions in 2015 asking the court to set aside EPA’s final order granting a conditional registration for a nanosilver-containing antimicrobial pesticide product named NSPW-L30SS (NSPW).  The court vacated the conditional registration because, according to the court, “EPA failed to support its finding that NSPW is in the public interest.” 

When EPA granted the conditional registration, EPA did so on the basis that NSPW had a lower application rate and a lower mobility rate when compared to conventional-silver pesticides, and thus had the potential to reduce environmental loading and risk caused by silver release.  Petitioners disputed these facts.  While the court found that substantial evidence supports EPA’s findings that NSPW has lower application and mobility rates, the court agreed that the third premise, that current users of conventional-silver pesticides will switch to NSPW and/or that NSPW will not be incorporated into new products, “impermissibly relies on unsubstantiated assumptions.”  According to the court, EPA cites no evidence in the record to support its assumption that current users of conventional-silver pesticides will switch to NSPW (“the substitution assumption”), but contends that it will occur as a “logical matter.”  The court states that the lack of evidence supporting the substitution assumption is problematic in light of EPA’s other unsupported assumption, that there will be no new products.  The court notes that EPA assumes current users of conventional-silver pesticides will switch to NSPW because of its benefits, but that these same benefits will not prompt manufacturers to incorporate NSPW into new products.  EPA could have proved these assumptions, but without evidence in the record to support the assumptions, the court states that it “cannot find that the EPA’s public-interest finding is supported by substantial evidence as required by [the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)].”  According to the court, the public interest finding is an “essential prerequisite to conditional registration,” and EPA failed to support that finding for NSPW with substantial evidence.  The court vacated the conditional registration in whole, and did not consider the remaining issues raised by petitioners. 

More information will be available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s memorandum Appellate Court Vacates Conditional Nanosilver Registration.


 
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By Susan M. Kirsch

On May 24, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017, by 256-165 vote.  H.R. 953, which is similar to bills introduced in the past three congresses, would overturn a 2009 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decision requiring Clean Water Act (CWA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for pesticide spraying activities into, over, or near waters.  The legislation would eliminate NPDES permitting for pesticide spraying that complies with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Proponents of the legislation assert that the addition of CWA regulation is duplicative, burdensome, and costly for industry without resulting in any additional environmental benefits.  Opponents argue that the bill would strip clean water protections for waters already listed as impaired for pesticides.  Championed by Representative Bob Gibbs (R-OH), the recent vote received significant bipartisan support, with twenty-five Democrats voting in support of the bill.  Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S. 340), which currently awaits action by the Committee on Environment and Public Works.  The prospects for a Senate vote are mixed in light of the number of confirmations in the queue for political appointees, as well as big ticket legislative priorities, such as health care and tax reform.  If legislation is enacted, it would only apply to the four states (Idaho, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Massachusetts), tribal lands, and other federally managed areas that are governed by the federal NPDES permit.  Forty-six states administer state versions of pesticide permits.  Mmany states would be expected to phase out permitting if the federal requirement is eliminated, however.

More information regarding CWA NPDES issues is available on our blog under key word NPDES.


 
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