Issue Date: March 30, 2009
EPA Urged To Fight Pesticide Ruling
USDA Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack is urging EPA to challenge a court ruling that would require pesticide applicators to obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) whenever pesticides are used in or near U.S. waters. In its final rule, issued under the Bush Administration in 2006, EPA excluded pesticides that comply with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) from being considered pollutants under CWA because their impact on aquatic environments is already considered under FIFRA. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down EPA's interpretation in January, ruling that pesticide residues and biological pesticides are pollutants under CWA. In a March letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Vilsack emphasized the adverse effect that the court's decision will have on U.S. farmers and USDA. In particular, he stressed that the court ruling will require nearly all pesticide applications to have a CWA permit, a process that could "cripple farmers' emergency pest management efforts and hamper their ability to respond quickly to new pest infestations." In addition, he noted, the ruling will encumber USDA's own ability to respond to emerging threats and emergencies, "while reaping little or no environmental benefit."
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