Applications May Require Waste Permits

A new decision by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals could require custom applicators and growers who apply their own crop protection products to obtain a permit when applying on or near water. CropLife America, the Agricultural Retailers Association, and other industry groups have expressed concern that the Clean Water Act ruling may set an unfavorable precedent for the ag community.

On Jan. 7, a panel of judges with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found EPA was incorrect in saying all pesticide applications were exempt from rules for discharging "pollutants" and therefore would not need permits under the agency’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The court also rejected EPA’s argument that pesticide is discharged from a point source, but the residue does not exist until after the discharge is complete, so it should be treated as a nonpoint source pollutant.

The decision means that commercial pesticide applications to, over, and around waterways will now require NPDES permits, which mainly affects areas which grow rice or require mosquito control.

By vacating that EPA final rule, the court in essence sent EPA regulators back to the drawing board to reconsider Clean Water Act regulations. The Clean Water Act prohibits any pollutant from being discharged into navigable waters from a point source without an EPA permit.

Several agricultural groups, including CropLife America and the National Cotton Council of America, have petitioned the court to support that pesticide applications did not qualify as pollutant discharges. The petitioners have 45 days to file an appeal with the full Sixth Circuit court.

"We maintain that pesticides should not be classified as pollutants under the CWA, as they serve an intended beneficial purpose and are well regulated already by EPA’s Office of Pesticides," said Jay Vroom, CLA president and CEO. "Though we’re disappointed by other parts of the court’s conclusion, we are pleased that the panel acknowledged that EPA was correct in its determination that not all pesticides should be considered pollutants."

"There are legal questions raised by this decision which are left unanswered," Doug Nelson, CLA executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. While the court vacated the current final rules, it did not give the EPA direction on how new final rules should be written. "As a result, this ruling may require further review by this court en banc, a subsequent court decision or a legislative solution to insure American agriculture is not jeopardized."

Obtaining a standard NPDES permit is a lengthy task. Most states require a series of forms, including estimations of the amount of pollutants to be discharged, maps showing pollutant flow to streams, where those streams go, and which water users might be affected, and an annual fee of several hundred dollars. State permitting agencies have 180 days to review each permit application, and if accepted, have another 45-day public comment period before issuing the permit. Several states, however, have set precedent for simplifying the NPDES permit process by granting "general permits," which allows anyone meeting a set of criteria to apply under an already approved permit.

According to court documents, Washington State and California have a general permit process that applies to pesticide applicators.

(Sources: Agricultural Retailers Association, CropLife America, and KFGO.com)

Leave a Reply

Latest News
StewardshipReport: Precision Nutrient Management, Cover Crops Amon…
August 31, 2016
Agriculture can play a significant role in helping to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions according to a recent scientific report. Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
CropLife 100GROWMARK To Build New Fertilizer Facility In Ayr, Ontar…
August 31, 2016
GROWMARK announced plans Wednesday to build a new state-of-the-art fertilizer facility in Ayr, Ontario. It will be managed by FS Read More
Soybean Field
FungicidesSyngenta Launches Interactive Tools For Vibrance Seed T…
August 30, 2016
As part of the ongoing commitment to provide growers and retailers with the most current crop protection products and agronomic Read More
EquipmentAGCO Celebrates Manufacturing In Minnesota
August 30, 2016
AGCO Corp. welcomed the I Make America campaign to its Jackson, MN, factory last Friday to celebrate the contributions of manufacturing Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
Eric SfiligojThe Read From MAGIE
August 29, 2016
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL. Being Read More
EquipmentAGCO Opens Nominations For 11th Annual Operator Of The …
August 29, 2016
AGCO Corp. is now accepting nominations for 2016 Operator of the Year, which recognizes hard-working applicators across the country. These Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100CHS Completes $10 Million Renovation Of St. Paul Agrono…
August 29, 2016
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has completed a $10 million Read More
2016 ShowStopper | Case IH Patriot 4440 Sprayer
Equipment5 Show-stopping Products On Display At 2016 MAGIE
August 26, 2016
For 10 years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with voting for Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More