Senate Agriculture Chair Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., have introduced legislation aimed at clarifying that additional permits are not required for pesticide application in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
The Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Frank Lucas, R-Okla., believes the pair is on the right track.
"For most of the history of the country, the Federal government's jurisdiction over all issues affecting water stopped at the end of quote navigable waters," Lucas said. "There is a move underway by Henry Waxman and I think many in the Administration to expand Federal control all the way to your doorstep, all the way to your barn door. That would be very bad for production agriculture."
Since passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 the Environmental Protection Agency has interpreted the act to exclude lawful pesticide applications regulated under FIFRA from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. But in January 2009, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the EPA did not have the authority to exempt application of pesticides.
There's not much time for Congress to act on this issue. Though Lucas introduced H.R. 6087, a companion bill to the Senate legislation, he notes Congress is in recess until mid-September when they'll likely convene for just a couple of weeks. The only other opportunity is a possible lame-duck session.
"I'd just as soon not have a lame-duck," Lucas said. "By its definition, many of the members making the decisions will have been defeated or retired by the voters and it's not a good thing when your elected officials never have to be held accountable again."
Lucas says that could be around 100 members of the House.