In 2008, the 6th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled that pesticide users would be required to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit under the Clean Water Act if the chemical is sprayed over, near or into a body of water. The decision creates unprecedented regulatory requirements and expands the Clean Water Act into an area of agriculture that was previously considered a non-point source activity.
For most of the past four decades, water quality concerns from pesticide applications were addressed with the registration process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) rather than a Clean Water Act permitting program. The new NPDES permits create an excessive regulatory burden while providing no additional environmental benefit.
The pesticide permits took effect on October 31, 2011. EPA has made an effort to narrowly tailor the permits so that terrestrial pesticide applications are not affected. However, the 6th Circuit decision is written so broadly that growers remain exposed to potential citizen lawsuits under the Clean Water Act and other enforcement actions.
During the previous Congress, the House of Representatives passed a bill clarifying that NPDES permits are not required for FIFRA registered pesticides when applied according to their product label. However, the legislation stalled in the Senate. NCGA expects a similar bill to be reintroduced in the 113th Congress and urges swift adoption.
Urge Congress to pass legislation clarifying that NPDES permits are not required for FIFRA-registered pesticides when applied according to their product label.