Crop Protection Permit Ruling Appealed

Last week we told you about a number of agricultural groups, including CropLife America, appealing a three-judge ruling that would require permits for crop protection product uses even if they are applied in compliance with labeling laws. This week, we learned that at least one organization specifically stated its disappointment in EPA’s stance.

The ag organizations have asked the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the three-judge ruling. In the case of the National Cotton Council v. EPA, the panel reversed an EPA rule that would have clarified that Clean Water Act permits are not required for pesticides application near waters as long as the application complies with pesticide labeling laws.

This decision could lead to additional needless regulations on the use of crop protection tools, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). Because of the potential impacts, AFBF has expressed disappointment that EPA has stated it will not seek a rehearing on the matter. EPA is instead requesting a delay of two years before the new permits for legal, label-approved applications would be required.

In its press release, CropLife America says the January decision did agree with EPA that not all pesticides should be considered pollutants, but the panel declined to follow previous court rulings which determined that miniscule pesticide residues in water are a natural consequence of the use of the pesticides for the purposes for which they were approved by EPA.

The “general permits” referenced by the panel’s January decision could take months or perhaps years to develop, says Jay Vroom, CropLife America president and CEO. They are especially vulnerable to possible litigation for which applicators and growers, not product registrants, could be held responsible.

Other industry petitioners include the National Cotton Council, the National Agricultural Aviation Association, and the American Forest & Paper Association.

Additionally, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and Ranking Member Frank Lucus, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss are encouraging EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to seek a rehearing, according to the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA). Furthermore, groups such as the Weed Science Society of America also are asking EPA to request a rehearing of the court decision.

The Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators has asked EPA to seek the delay in implementing the court order, ARA adds. EPA says that even though the Department of Justice and EPA will not seek to reverse the Sixth Circuit ruling, it will ask the court to stay implementation so that EPA can work with state water programs to develop their permits and provide outreach and education on the issue.

(Sources: CropLife America; Agricultural Retailers Association; American Farm Bureau Federation)

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