ARA Reacts To Proposed Pesticide General Permit

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) has filed comments in response to the EPA’s proposed pesticide general permit (PGP) for aquatic pesticide application.

In the comments, ARA reminded EPA of the interaction between the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and that FIFRA was intended to have primacy over pesticide use. ARA commented that agricultural terrestrial applicators would not need to be included in the permit due to application technology, buffers, and the statutory exemptions for agricultural irrigation return flows and stormwater runoff. ARA also suggested that EPA:

  • Appeal to the court for more time for implementation.
  • Clarify pesticide use patterns that do not require NPDES permit coverage.
  • EPA should clarify the status of Clean Water Act jurisdiction by defining pesticide applications to areas man-made or to erosional features, and clarify what is not included in CWA permitting jurisdiction, like prior converted croplands, agricultural runoff, and irrigation return flows.
  • Eliminate the joint and several liability provision related to regulatory and citizen suit enforcement.
  • Eliminate the stacking of violations under the draft permit.
  • For-hire applicators should not be required to submit an individual notice of intent (NOI) to be automatically covered by the PGP.
  • Simplify recordkeeping and reporting requirements and decrease opportunities for citizen suits.
  • Enforcement actions under this permit should be limited under the jurisdiction of the CWA.

Background

On June 2, EPA released its draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for point source discharges from the application of pesticides to waters of the U.S. EPA developed the general permit in response to a decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (National Cotton Council, et al. v. EPA). The court vacated EPA’s 2006 rule that exempted FIFRA-compliant aquatic pesticide applications from the Clean Water Act requirements. Due to the Sixth Circuit’s decision, aquatic pesticide applications will require NPDES permits when the court’s mandate takes effect on April 9, 2011.

EPA’s draft permit regulates four pesticide use patterns: (1) mosquito and other flying insect pest control, (2) aquatic weed and algae control, (3) aquatic nuisance animal control, and (4) forest canopy pest control.

Terrestrial pesticide applications to control pests on agricultural crops are not included in the draft permit. Any use patterns not covered by this proposed draft permit would need to obtain coverage under an individual permit if they involve pesticide application that result in point source discharges to waters of the U.S.

EPA intends to issue a final general permit by December 2010. Once finalized, the general permit will provide coverage for discharges where EPA is the NPDES-permitting authority: Alaska, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and certain areas of Texas. In the other 44 states, the state NPDES authorities will issue the permits.

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