Carper, Coons Applaud Committee Approval of Bipartisan Measure to Ease Burden on Delaware Farmers

Legislation would eliminate unnecessary federal pesticide regulations

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) applauded Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee approval of the Sensible Environmental Protection Act (SEPA), which would eliminate unnecessary and costly Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on pesticides that affect many of Delaware’s farmers. Introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Senators Carper, a senior member of the EPW Committee, and Coons are cosponsors of the bill, along with Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), David Vitter (R-La.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

“Some people believe that we must choose between a cleaner environment and a stronger economy, but I believe this is a false choice,” said Senator Carper. “By implementing federal regulations in an effective and efficient way, we can have robust environmental protections that also protect the private sector’s ability to create jobs. We have a duty to the hard-working farmers in Delaware and across the country to ensure they are not overburdened by duplicative or wasteful federal regulations. By reducing duplication in the pesticide permitting process in a responsible way, we can protect the health our citizens and our environment without wasting taxpayer dollars or straining our agricultural producers. I was happy to support the legislation in Committee and look forward to working with my colleagues to get this bill across the goal line.”

“Delaware’s diverse agriculture industry helps feed the nation and our economy,” said Senator Coons. “For too long, though, Delaware farmers have faced redundant, excessive regulatory burdens that hamper their productivity and waste taxpayer dollars. This legislation is a step in the right direction to help ensure our farmers and our environment are protected without wasting valuable time and money.”

For nearly 40 years, the EPA has implemented a comprehensive regulatory scheme for pesticide applications under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). According to the EPA, a new pesticide must undergo over 100 different tests to characterize its potential risks to the environment and human and wildlife health. Unfortunately, a court decision forced EPA to begin requiring Clean Water Act permits for pesticides applied in, over, or near water. The new permitting system went into effect on November 1, 2011.

SEPA clarifies that Clean Water Act permits are not required for pesticide applications in or near water. The bill also asks EPA to report back to Congress on whether the FIFRA process can be improved to better protect human health and the environment from pesticide applications.

EPA has estimated an additional 365,000 pesticide users – including farmers, ranchers, state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators, and forest managers that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually – will be required to obtain Clean Water Act permits. This is nearly double the number of entities previously subject to permitting requirements – forcing states and localities to spend time and precious resources to comply with this unnecessary regulation.

SEPA is supported by 150 farming and forestry groups and state regulators from across the country, including: the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Agriculture Retailers Association, National Cotton Council, National Alliance of Forest Owners, United Fresh Produce Association and the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants.