The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new permit requirement that it says would decrease the amount of pesticides discharged to our nation's waters and protect human health and the environment. According to EPA the new permit would not cover terrestrial application to control pests on agricultural crops or forest floors. EPA estimates that the pesticide general permit will affect approximately 35,000 pesticide applicators nationally that perform approximately half a million pesticide applications annually.
The proposed permit would require all operators to reduce pesticide discharges by using the lowest effective amount of pesticide, prevent leaks and spills, calibrate equipment and monitor for and report adverse incidents. Additional controls such as integrated pest management practices are built into the permit for operators who exceed an annual treatment area threshold.
The agency's draft permit covers pesticide use for mosquito and other flying insect pest control; aquatic weed and algae control; aquatic nuisance animal control; and forest canopy pest control. The agency plans to finalize the permit in December 2010. It will take effect April 9 of 2011.
According to Peter Silva, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water, EPA believes this draft permit strikes a balance between using pesticides to control pests and protecting human health and water quality. The EPA proposal is in response to an April of 2009 court decision that found pesticide discharges to U.S. waters were pollutants thus requiring a permit.
The Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., has voiced his disappointment with the proposed draft. He says that by refusing to defend current law and its own reasonable regulations EPA is planning to place unnecessary, burdensome and duplicative permit requirements on producers, mosquito control districts and states. Chambliss says more regulation is not the key to economic recovery, especially when the regulation does absolutely nothing to further protect or enhance the environment.