By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
On March 2, 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) executed a settlement agreement (Agreement) following the ACC’s petition for judicial review of EPA’s antimicrobial pesticide data requirements final rule issued on May 8, 2013 (78 Fed. Reg. 26936). The judicial review proceeding was held in abeyance while settlement discussions were pursued between EPA and ACC for this final rule, entitled “Data Requirements for Antimicrobial Pesticides.”
In the settlement, EPA agreed to propose, within four months of the Agreement becoming final, a guidance document entitled Antimicrobial Pesticide Use Site Index (USI), and provide a 30-day comment period. The USI guidance will provide descriptions of direct food uses, indirect foods uses, and nonfood uses.
In addition, EPA agreed to issue, within 60 days of the Agreement becoming final, an interim guidance document explaining EPA’s interpretation of the 200 parts per billion (ppb) residue level above which additional toxicology testing would be required for indirect food uses. Then, within two years and six months of the Agreement becoming final, EPA agreed to propose a correction to the final rule that “will make the language of the Final Rule as it pertains to the 200 ppb level established in 40 C.F.R. § 158.2330(d) consistent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s use of that same level by making clear that the 200 ppb level established in the Final Rule is based on total estimated daily dietary intake, and is not based on the amount of residue present on only a single commodity.”
By Lisa M. Campbell and Timothy D. Backstrom
In a March 9, 2015, decision in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Ass'n., the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that an interpretative rule issued by an administrative agency does not require notice and opportunity for comment, even if the interpretative rule construes a substantive (or "legislative") rule previously issued by the agency and even if the interpretative rule alters a prior interpretation of the same rule. In the Perez decision, the Court explicitly overruled Paralyzed Veterans of America v. D.C. Arena, L.P., a 1997 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that held that notice and comment is required whenever an agency issues an interpretative rule altering a prior interpretation of a legislative rule, based on the premise that adopting a new interpretation of a rule is tantamount to an amendment of the underlying rule.
Pursuant to Administrative Procedure Act (APA) Section 553(b)(A), notice and comment rulemaking procedures do not apply to "interpretative rules, general statements of policy, or rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice." In Perez, the Supreme Court concluded that "[t]he text of the APA answers the question presented." Finding the APA exemption for interpretative rules to be "categorical," the Court held that "it is fatal to the rule announced in Paralyzed Veterans." Since an agency can adopt an initial interpretative rule without notice and comment, it is "also not required to use those procedures when it amends or repeals that interpretive rule." The actual legal effect of this new ruling is likely to be limited in scope, because the Paralyzed Veterans decision only required an agency to use notice and comment procedures in those instances where the agency was both interpreting an underlying substantive regulation and revising or contradicting a prior interpretation of that regulation.
Although the APA does not define "interpretative rules," the general consensus is that such rules only are intended to announce how the agency intends to construe a particular statute or regulation. Interpretative rules are not supposed to have any independent force of law. While an agency must generally follow its own interpretation of a statute or regulation unless and until it has been revised, no party outside of the agency is required to conform to that same interpretation. This contrasts to a legislative rule, which binds parties other than the agency as well, and which can only be lawfully adopted after providing notice and opportunity for comment. A "statement of policy" has even less formality than an interpretative rule, because even the agency that issued a policy statement is free to deviate from that policy without formally withdrawing or revising it.
While the Supreme Court was unanimous in setting aside the Paralyzed Veterans precedent, the Court did not clearly resolve the question of how much judicial deference should be afforded to such agency interpretations. It can be argued that an interpretation adopted by an agency without notice and comment should be afforded a lesser degree of judicial deference, but there has been a general trend in recent years toward affording judicial deference to agency interpretations in situations where an underlying statute or regulation is ambiguous. In three concurring opinions, several conservative members of the Court (Scalia, Thomas, and Alito) signaled that they are willing to revisit the 1945 Supreme Court decision in Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., a case holding that reviewing courts should generally defer to the agency's interpretation when construing an ambiguous regulation. Scalia's concurring opinion goes even further, indicating that he would like to revisit the general rule announced in the seminal 1984 precedent Chevron v. NRDC, which affords substantial judicial deference to an administrative agency in construing ambiguous statutory provisions. Unlike an administrative agency's interpretation of an ambiguous regulation, however, ambiguous statutory provisions will typically be construed in the context of promulgation of a substantive or legislative rule, and this type of exercise means that the agency's statutory construction can only be adopted after notice and comment.
On balance, it is possible that the Perez decision could encourage administrative agencies to issue new interpretative rules or even policy statements in lieu of using more elaborate notice and comment rulemaking procedures. Such an approach could be particularly tempting where an agency anticipates that a reviewing court is likely to give deference to its interpretation. After all, the principle that the public is not bound by an interpretative rule or policy statement will provide little solace if regulated parties must effectively presume that the agency's announced construction is correct.
This risk is mitigated somewhat by language in the majority opinion that makes it clear that a newly adopted agency interpretation may require greater substantive justification and be entitled to less judicial deference when it conflicts with a prior interpretation. Moreover, it is possible that the Perez decision could ultimately undermine Seminole Rock, a case that has encouraged reviewing courts to give administrative agencies a high degree of discretion when interpreting ambiguous provisions in their own rules. After all, when the agency is free to resolve clearly such ambiguities through amendments adopted through notice and comment rulemaking, there may be less justification for resolving the same ambiguities through non-binding interpretations.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
On March 1, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the 11th Annual Report on EPA’s implementation of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act (PRIA 3) that is required under Section 33(k) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
This annual report details changes in processes, practices, and policies for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 that ran from October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014. The report is divided into different sections related to: (1) pesticide registration service fees; (2) maintenance fees; and (3) process improvements in the pesticide program; all of which can be accessed on EPA’s website at the below links. Specifically, the report covers the following topics:
Pesticide Registration Service Fees
* Fees Collected, Waived, Exempted and Expended
o Pesticide Worker Protection
o Partnership Grants
o Progress in Meeting Decision Times
* Fees Collected and Expended
o Expedited Processing FIFRA Section 3(c)(3)(B)
o Pesticide Reevaluation Programs
Process Improvements in the Pesticide Program
* Pesticide Reevaluation Programs
* Information Technology and Labeling
* Science Review/Assessment Improvements
EPA’s report addressing process improvements in the pesticide program discusses several areas where EPA believes its registration programs have improved, either through increased efficiency, consistency, and/or transparency. The areas discussed are:
* EPA’s use of the “Lean” business model to improve business processes;
* Delegation of authority to EPA’s Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (BPPD) to expedite fast track and notification actions to reduce approval times and the number of actions in backlog status;
* Biopesticide Industry Alliance Registration Workshops to improve quality of application submissions;
* Release of testing guidelines to clarify scenarios under which efficacy testing at the lower certified limit is needed;
* Reduction of registered products for which EPA is taking action under the Antimicrobial Testing Program;
* Continued crop grouping regulations to save resources and reduce the number of required residue studies;
* Establishment of a Pre-decisional Determination Due Date to provide adequate time to reach agreement with the registrant on required label changes prior to EPA approving the label; and
* International work sharing to assist in individual country registration decisions while striving to harmonize regulatory decisions with global partners.
With regard to EPA’s review of electronic labels, EPA states the following:
1. Of approximately 6,300 labels submitted to EPA in FY 2014, almost half included an electronic label. Comparing the statistics from FY 2011 to FY 2014 reveals a steady increase of approximately 10 percent each year in the percentage of labels submitted in electronic format.
2. The use of electronic label review software varies significantly across the three regulatory divisions with the Registration Division reporting the highest use, the Antimicrobials Division reporting moderate use, and BPPD the lowest use.
PRIA 3 is effective from October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2017.
By Lisa M. Campbell, James V. Aidala, and Lisa R. Burchi
On March 2, 2015, European Union (EU) Ministers approved a Directive previously approved by the European Parliament with regard to genetically modified organisms (GMO). EU Directive 2010/0208, entitled Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2001/18/EC as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their territory, will allow individual Member States to determine whether they will allow, ban, or otherwise restrict the cultivation of GMOs, even in cases where the EU has authorized use of a GMO following the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) assessment of the risks to health and the environment.
Specifically, the Directive provides: “a Member State may adopt measures restricting or prohibiting the cultivation in all or part of its territory of a GMO, or of a group of GMOs defined by crop or trait, once authorised in accordance with Part C of this Directive or with Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, provided that such measures are in conformity with Union law, reasoned, proportional and non-discriminatory and, in addition, are based on compelling grounds.” The grounds stated include those related to:
* Environmental policy objectives;
* Town and country planning;
* Land use;
* Socio-economic impacts;
* Avoidance of GMO presence in other products without prejudice to Article 26a;
* Agricultural policy objectives; and
* Public policy.
A Member State also can seek to have all or part of its territory excluded from the geographical scope during the authorization procedure for a GMO.
The passage of this Directive is the culmination of years of negotiations between EU Member States that have disagreed over the cultivation of GMOs in their territories. The new rules, which will allow EU countries to opt-out from otherwise approved EU GMOs, are sure to be controversial as Member States, industry, farmers, and the public work out details related to the potentially non-scientific grounds that a particular Member State relies upon in restricting or banning use of a GMO, and as Member States develop measures that allowed GMOs must take to avoid “possible cross-border contamination.”
The legislation will enter into force following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU, which is expected in Spring 2015.
As various members of the EU continue to oppose production of GMO crops, these policies will remain trade irritants to the U.S. and other countries where GMO crops have been widely adopted. This comes as trade negotiations are ongoing and the EU allowance of trade barriers based on the “precautionary principle” remains a major point of disagreement between the EU and the U.S. (with its reliance on “science-based risk assessment policies”). This latest development, which further allows EU Member States to reject GMO crops under various criteria, will not make resolving any current or future trade disagreements any easier.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Susan Hunter Youngren, Ph.D.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an updated schedule for the Pesticide Registration Review program that sets forth a timetable for opening dockets for the next three years, through end of fiscal year 2017 (September 2017).
Through the Pesticide Registration Review program, EPA reviews all registered pesticides at least every 15 years, as mandated by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Following the newly issued schedule, all pesticides registered as of October 1, 2007, will have entered the registration review process with the exception of certain biopesticides. All pesticides registered by October 1, 2007, are scheduled to be assessed by October 1, 2022.
The rodenticide and triazole groups of chemicals have had their schedules adjusted so that all chemicals in the groups will be assessed during the same time frame. The rodenticides have dockets opening in first and second quarter 2016, while the triazoles have dockets opening from fourth quarter 2015 through third quarter 2016. In addition, EPA states that it has moved some chemicals that it believes may have significant data needs earlier in the schedule, but does not specify which were moved. Those with significant moves forward in the schedule (all moved from fourth quarter 2015 to first quarter 2015) include yellow mustard seed, sulfonic acids, fluazifop butyl, isomers, and flonicamid.
More information about the Pesticide Registration Review schedule is available here.
Border Security: EPA's Increased FIFRA Import Enforcement Initiative
March 12, 2015
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT)
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is pleased to host a complimentary webinar on recent compliance and enforcement issues regarding the importation of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2014 revisions to its Notice of Arrival (NOA) form (EPA Form 3540-1), coupled with EPA's increasing scrutiny of pesticide imports, indicate that this is an issue of growing interest to EPA and could result in a rise of enforcement cases or, at a minimum, business disruption for shipments that are refused entry.
This webinar will highlight recent developments and suggest steps importers should take to ensure compliance and avoid potential enforcement. There will be 45 minutes of presentation, followed by a 15 minute Q&A period.
Topics will include:
* Requirements for importation of registered and unregistered pesticides
* Revised NOA "recommendations" and "optional" sections -- what they really mean
* EPA's recent enforcement priority on pesticide importations and examples of EPA and U.S. Customs detentions of imported pesticides
* Industry perspective and steps to avoid non-compliance
* Eileen B. Salathé Gernhard, Lead Counsel, Regulatory and EH&S at Dow AgroSciences, LLC
* Lisa M. Campbell, Partner, B&C
* Lisa R. Burchi, Of Counsel, B&C
* Jon Jacobs, a 25-year veteran of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, now in private practice with Jacobs Stotsky PLLC
By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
On February 27, 2015, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released California Notice 2015-3, entitled Concurrent Submission of Pesticide Products to the Department of Pesticide Regulation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In this Notice, DPR describes the four types of applications that may be submitted concurrently to DPR and to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the procedure applicants should follow to request concurrent submission, and how DPR will process such requests.
This notice supersedes California Notice 2005-10, and there are some changes. For example, Notice 2015-3 now includes a process for an applicant to seek concurrent submission when the application is not one of the four specified types for which concurrent submission is permitted. Under this new procedure, the applicant must send a letter requesting approval to the Pesticide Registration Branch Chief before submitting an application to DPR and provide the following: (1) a statement that the product/amendment is not yet federally registered or accepted; (2) a request for concurrent acceptance of the application; and (3) justification with supporting documentation for the concurrent submission request (e.g., no other effective alternatives available for a specific pest problem). In addition, regarding data submissions with an application, DPR now states clearly: “All data and information required by California statutes and regulations, including all data and information submitted to U.S. EPA, must still be submitted with your California registration request.”
By Lisa M. Campbell and Susan Hunter Youngren, Ph.D.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced on February 26, 2015, a revision to the process for evaluation of the potential for a pesticide to move off-site into surface water when the pesticide is used in an urban area. The former evaluation method followed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approach with California specific parameters. This revision will continue to use the EPA approach but allow incorporation of a module specific for California urban settings.
Potential adverse impacts on surface water from use of pesticides are assessed in California by DPR’s Environmental Monitoring Branch’s Surface Water Protection Program (SWPP) using EPA methodology. The SWPP uses the EPA evaluation method for proposed agricultural pesticide registrations based on PE5 (PRZM-EXAMS version 5) and Tier 2 modeling scenarios but there have been no consistent methods for assessing potential pesticide runoff on impervious surfaces in an urban setting. The new California urban module includes the following improvements that are designed to be further representative of urban conditions in California:
* Introduction of four types of surfaces by permeability and water sources;
* Consideration of pesticide transport induced by dry-weather runoff from impervious surfaces;
* Separation of impervious and pervious portions in the modeling scenarios;
* Use of prescheduled lawn irrigation;
* Characterization of residential and commercial/industrial areas to reflect California urban conditions; and
* Aggregations of water, sediment, and pesticide yields for the urban watershed.
The urban model is designed particularly for evaluating pesticides applied outdoors in areas with large amounts of impervious surfaces such as residential areas, commercial/industrial facilities, and highway and road rights-of-way applications. Pesticide products of interest would be those that have the potential for impact to surface waters through overspray to impervious surfaces in these areas
By Lisa M. Campbell, Timothy D. Backstrom, and James V. Aidala
Center for Food Safety v. EPA is a case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (9th Circuit) that consolidates two petitions for review of a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to register the new herbicide product Enlist Duo for use in six Midwestern states. A group of non-governmental organizations filed one of the petitions and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a separate petition. Enlist Duo combines the active ingredients glyphosate and 2,4-D. The registrant Dow AgroSciences (Dow) has intervened in the case. The petitioners focus primarily on the purported failure of EPA to consider properly the effects of Enlist Duo on certain endangered species.
Each petitioner has now filed a motion to stay the EPA action registering Enlist Duo due to Endangered Species Act (ESA) challenges. The first stay motion filed by NRDC is based primarily on the risk to monarch butterflies, and that stay motion has now been fully briefed. The other petitioners filed a separate stay motion focusing on whooping cranes and Indiana bats, but they waited until two weeks after EPA and Dow filed their briefs opposing the first stay motion. Before either stay motion was filed, Dow filed a motion seeking transfer of the case to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Arguing that the two independent successive stay motions were abusive, Dow later filed a motion to hold the briefing on the second stay motion in abeyance, pending a ruling on its transfer motion.
The 9th Circuit denied Dow’s motion to hold the briefing on the second stay motion in abeyance only three days later. This procedural ruling does not dispose of the underlying transfer motion, but it does suggest that the court is not inclined to transfer the case. If the case is not transferred, the court will ultimately consider and rule on both pending stay motions. The court’s interim order does not suggest how it views the pending stay motions. The petitioners have a heavy burden to show both a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable harm to obtain the requested interim relief. EPA and Dow contend that the petitioners have not established either of these things. Overall, this ESA challenge to a new genetically modified organism (GMO) product may indicate a new front in the ESA litigation arena, since new products have generally not been challenged under ESA requirements. 2,4,-D itself is not a new herbicide, so this case is not quite a challenge to a totally new active ingredient; such a challenge was made recently in the case of cyantraniliprole. CBD, et al. v. EPA, No. 14-00942 (D.D.C. filed Oct. 10, 2014). Challenges to new active ingredients and GMO products, however, could threaten to hinder the introduction of new products into the marketplace.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
Not a moment too soon, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) released a useful and clearly written Practical Guide on Biocidal Products Regulation, ECHA-14-B-19-EN. ECHA is the European Union (EU) agency tasked with implementing the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR), along with other EU chemical laws and regulations. Adopted in 2012, the BPR revised the Biocidal Products Directive and imposes requirements on producers of active substances and biocidal products. Starting on September 1, 2013, all legal entities producing active ingredients or biocidal products available in the EU are required to obtain an approval for each active substance in the biocidal product and an authorization for the biocidal product itself. The Guide provides a “how to” comply with the BPR to “help companies to better fulfill their obligations and tasks under the BPR.” The Guide is organized into sections and explains the obligations imposed on regulated entities, who is responsible for the obligations, what are the relevant timelines and the deadlines, which are the information requirements and procedures to follow, and the expected results of the process. The Guide also highlights the exceptions and cases for some of the processes, and lists the relevant fees for each obligation.
The Guide contains the following chapters:
■ Approval of active substance;
■ Article 95: list of active substances and suppliers;
■ Technical equivalence;
■ National authorizations;
■ Mutual recognition;
■ Renewal of national authorization and authorizations subject to mutual recognition;
■ Union authorization;
■ Simplified authorizations;
■ Changes of biocidal products;
■ Data sharing; and
■ Appeals (on ECHA decisions).
The following additional chapters are expected to be published at a later date:
■ Renewal of approval of active substance;
■ Review of an approval of active substance; and
■ Research and development.
By Lisa M. Campbell
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently issued its Progress Report 2012-2014, which highlights DPR’s view of achievements under the leadership of Director Brian Leahy. Among the achievements noted are the following; others are also discussed in the report.
• Restricting sales of Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SCAR). This action is described as having been “the catalyst for a national change, as the manufacturer agreed with U.S. EPA to phase out these products after DPR’s action.”
• Implementing surface water regulations for pyrethroids. This action is described as “an aggressive preventative measure for environmental protection starting at the first point of pesticide applications.”
• Committing more than $3 million in research for alternatives to field fumigants since 2012 and “reducing risks to the public from field fumigations,” as well as “protecting workers and the public from structural fumigations.”
• Efforts to reduce pesticide use in schools and child care centers.
• Collecting air monitoring data, regulating volatile organic compounds, as well as a number of other actions addressing environmental monitoring.
• Efforts to reevaluate neonicotinoids.
The Progress Report highlights and achievements reflect well many DPR priorities and the direction DPR is continuing to forge on a number of issues, some of which are subject to significant controversy.
By Lisa R. Burchi
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has extended, from February 27, 2015, to Friday, March 13, 2015, the submission of written comments following DPR’s January 14, 2015, Registration Fee Workshop where DPR discussed the potential increase in registration fees for pesticide products pursuant to Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) § 12812(a).
Under the proposal, DPR would increase fees for applications and renewals from $750 to $1,150, decrease fees for certain label amendments supported by scientific data from $100 to $25, and create a new fee of $25 for label amendments not supported by scientific data, including substantive label amendments, non-substantive label amendments, label changes required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or any other federal or state agency, amendments to the formulation of the pesticide product, and notifications.
By Lisa M. Campbell and James V. Aidala
On January 28, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has made available for public comment its proposal to improve the corn rootworm insect resistance management program currently in place for registrations of plant-incorporated protectants (PIP) derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in corn. The EPA framework contains a number of controversial provisions, including the following proposed restriction of soil applied insecticides (SAI): “SAIs must be prohibited from use in combination with Bt corn for controlling corn rootworm. This can be done via bag tag language, grower guides, and terms of registration.” Concerns with the process by which this and other provisions can or should be developed and published for public comment are among the issues of concern. Comments are due March 16, 2015.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
The Environmental Law Institute will host a complimentary webinar, “Neonicotinoids and Colony Collapse Disorder: Regulating and Product Stewardship in the Face of Uncertainty,” on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (EST). The webinar is open to the public but registration is required.
Fraught with both scientific uncertainty and the potential for significant agricultural and ecological consequences, the debate over neonicotinoid regulation is at the forefront of environmental policy discussions, raising important issues about regulation and product stewardship in the face of scientific uncertainty paired with significant risk. This webinar will address the current questions regarding neonicotinoid pesticides and their regulation, including:
■ What is the state of the science around the role neonicotinoids may play in pollinator decline?
■ What other factors may be significant causes?
■ What should be the approach of regulators and company product stewards given the scientific uncertainty?
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) Senior Government Consultant James V. Aidala will moderate the webinar. Mr. Aidala, former Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) (now the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention) is a leading expert on the policy and regulatory issues associated with the confluence of pollinators and pesticides. He writes and speaks frequently on the subject; recent works include “Presidents and Pesticides: What’s Up with the Presidential Memo on Pollinators?,” “Neonicotinoids: EPA’s New Get-Tough Measures,” and the keynote address at the 2014 Spring Board Meeting of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials. Mr. Aidala is also a regular contributor to B&C’s Pesticide Law and Policy Blog.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On January 30, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released drafts of new guidelines for animal testing of the endocrine disrupting effects of pesticides and other chemicals. The proposed guidelines outline how scientists can use Japanese quail, medaka fish, or amphibian larvae to conduct various endocrine tests. EPA reportedly also considered including mysid crustaceans on its list of non-mammals acceptable to use in endocrine testing, but did not because the data were not deemed "fully reliable" across all endpoints. Comments are due March 31, 2015.