After efforts to pass the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, H.R. 872, failed in the Senate earlier this fall, a bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking for full consideration on the Senate floor before the end of the year. The legislation previously passed the House of Representatives in March and passed the Senate Agriculture Committee in June.
“We are aware that efforts had been made to come into a bipartisan resolution before these new permitting requirements went into effect,” the letter stated. “However, we believe there is still an opportunity to resolve this matter in a way that will protect the environment while avoiding undue costs on rural communities and municipalities nationwide. Thus, it is our sincere hope that you will allot floor time for the Senate to have a full, open debate on this matter.”
The legislation would clarify that National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits are not required when applying pesticides according to their EPA-approved label. While the court ordered implementation deadline for the NPDES permitting program was October 31, the EPA announced they will not begin enforcing the permits until January 2012.
Under a federal court ruling in 2009, certain pesticide applicators would have to apply for an NPDES permit if the chemical reaches a body of water, which could include ditches and culverts. The new requirements will expose farmers to potential citizen action suits for routine pesticide applications that have already been deemed safe by the EPA. NCGA also signed onto a coalition letter with 38 other agriculture organizations urging the Senate for swift action.