April 17, 2009
The American Farm Bureau Federation has asked the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to review a three-judge ruling that would require permits for pesticide uses even if they are applied in compliance with pesticide labeling laws.
AFBF expressed disappointment the Environmental Protection Agency is not seeking a rehearing of the matter.
In the case, 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, so long as the application complies with pesticide labeling laws.
That decision could lead to additional needless regulations on the use of crop protection tools, according to AFBF. Because of the potential impacts, AFBF expressed disappointment that the EPA has stated it will not seek a rehearing on the matter, requesting instead a delay of two years before the new permits for legal, label-approved applications would be required.
“Farmers should not need a permit under another law when they already are following an existing law,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “We are disappointed that EPA has decided not to seek a legal remedy for this situation. The decision made by the three-judge panel in January will complicate farmers’ ability to farm, and raise their expenses without improving the environment.”
The AFBF petition, filed jointly with the American Forest & Paper Association, National Cotton Council, Croplife and other industry petitioners, asks the court to reverse, or clarify, the January decision that vacated a 2006 EPA rule exempting certain pesticide applications in, near or around water from Clean Water Act permit requirements.
EPA filed a motion asking the court to delay enforcement of the ruling for two years to provide the agency and state authorities time to develop and implement a permitting program. Not all members of the Obama administration supported EPA’s decision not to seek a rehearing of the court’s decision. In a recent letter, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated support for a full rehearing.
“A rehearing of this decision is important because the court’s earlier ruling could result in a permitting program that complicates farmers’ effective use of important crop protection tools,” Stallman said. “Complications that are inevitable with any permitting process would impede the effective and time-sensitive use of pesticides to combat disease and insects that can destroy crops.”
A permitting program also would impose a great burden on regulatory authorities because of a staggering increase in the number of new permit requests.
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