FLA Acts to Alleviate
Regulatory Burden to Landowners
On March 9, the House Agriculture Committee voted in favor of legislation that would exempt pesticide users from obtaining a federal Clean Water Act permit for spraying over water. The bill (H.R. 872) was written in response to a 2009 federal appeals court ruling - National Cotton Council v. EPA - that said EPA permitting under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) does not do enough to regulate pesticide sprays over water. The court gave EPA until April 9 to start issuing additional permits under the water pollution law.
The legislation would accomplish two objectives. It would amend FIFRA to prohibit EPA, or states, from requiring an additional permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA), and it would also amend water law to prohibit permit requirements for pesticide use. Forest landowners may be aware that the CWA carries a silvicultural exemption, which has been confounded by this judgment. While this court action has been widely applauded by environmental activists, the ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has been roundly criticized by forest landowners and many Members of Congress as well as by EPA and other pesticide users.
In the Senate, Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss, a member of the Agriculture Committee, said last week that he is discussing legislation to address the double permitting issue with ranking member Pat Roberts (R-KS). And earlier this week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson met with Senate Agriculture members to discuss the National Cotton Council case and other EPA regulations. Roberts expressed concern about double permitting, but he said legislation may not be needed if EPA provides details on its permitting plans in an executive order. Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) wrote EPA requesting that they ask the court to extend the April 9 deadline. EPA responded favorably, asking the court to delay implementation of the permit requirement until Oct. 31.
The Forest Landowners Associations and our allies' will continue our work to recruit support to the bill and would appreciate any support you may offer by contacting your Members of Congress about this issue.
Please call (capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) your U.S. House and Senate delegates to ask that they support and vote to pass HR 872.
To learn more about these issues, or others affecting private forest landowners, please contact Frank Stewart or call (703) 549-0347.