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EPA Announces Request for Public Input on the Current Pesticide Exemption Provision Process
On April 8, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit information on the current pesticide exemption provision process. 86 Fed. Reg. 18232. EPA announced its intent to issue this ANPR on January 19, 2021, as discussed here. The issuance of the ANPR was paused following the Biden Administration’s Executive Orders requiring agencies to review their rules and policies to ensure consistency with the current Administration’s environmental policies.
EPA states that it is soliciting comments and suggestions to determine whether regulatory and policy changes are needed to improve the exemption provisions for pesticides that may be considered minimum risk under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). EPA states that changes to the current process could make the implementation and evaluation of the exemption provisions more efficient.
Comments on the ANPR are due before July 7, 2021. Discussed below are the issues raised in the ANPR for stakeholder consideration and changes made since the ANPR was first announced in January 2021.
The ANPR is generally the same as what was first announced in January 2021, in which EPA states it is seeking public input for two main categories:
One important difference is that the April 2021 ANPR now includes a discussion of environmental justice. EPA states that Executive Order 12989 directed agencies, “to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, to identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its actions on minority and low-income populations.” EPA states in the ANPR that it has not identified any such disproportionate effects, since this ANPR is soliciting comments and is not proposing any specific actions or regulatory changes.
Specific questions posed that relate to environmental justice include the following:
Other questions posed that have not changed substantively since the 2021 ANPR include the following:
Given the change in Administrations and the “pause” that was imposed and further review that was required before this proposed rulemaking could be issued, it was unclear whether EPA would issue this proposal.
Now that EPA has issued the ANPR, it is important for stakeholders to review these issues carefully and consider submitting comments to identify challenges with the current regulatory criteria and procedures, as well as potential modifications that could improve the regulatory process.
EPA states: “Should EPA decide to move forward with changes to the program, the next step would be to identify, develop and evaluate specific options for amending the current regulations in 40 CFR 152.25, and issue a proposed rule for public review and comment.” EPA also notes that with regard to environmental justice, it is seeking public input on the consideration of environmental justice concerns in the context of the issues raised in the ANPR, and that “if and when the Agency proposes regulatory options regarding exemptions under FIFRA or the related procedures, EPA will seek additional input from the public, as appropriate.”