Aside from the legal precedent, Vroom notes the permit will add performance, recordkeeping and reporting requirements to an estimated 1.5 million pesticide applications per year and pre-empt the science-based ecological review of pesticides and label requirements for uses regulated under the FIFRA.

“This one decision overnight will nearly double the population of entities requiring permits under CWA and affects state agencies, local municipalities, recreation, utility rights-of-way, railroads, roads and highways, mosquito control districts, water districts, canals and other water conveyances, commercial applicators, farm, ranches, forestry, scientists, and many, many others. This is an enormous burden – and we see no related benefit to protection of humans or the environment.”

Many of the businesses impacted by the permit are small businesses. “The permit will threaten their economic survival, either due to the cost of obtaining a permit or due to their vulnerability to citizen law suits under CWA,” he said.

“New requirements for monitoring and surveillance, planning, recordkeeping, reporting and other tasks will create significant delays, costs, reporting burdens and legal risks from citizen suits for hundreds of thousands of newly-minted permit holders without enhancing the environmental protections already provided by FIFRA compliance.”

To date, EPA’s proposed general permit only covers applications of pesticides registered for aquatic use and applied to water or forest canopies into or over flowing or seasonal waters, and conveyances to those waters; it would not cover pesticide applications registered and intended for terrestrial use.

“However, activists indicate that they believe most pesticide applications should require a permit if there is even a chance that the pesticide could come in contact with any ‘water,’ either flowing water or seasonal drainage ditches that could be a conveyance to a water of the U.S.,” said Vroom.

“So, even though EPA may not currently cover farmland and rangeland pesticide applications, nothing in the CWA or the proposed permit protects against citizen suits against farmers for not obtaining a permit. This establishes an uncertain, increased level of liability for farmers and ranchers, as well as users applying pesticides to golf courses and public utility rights of way, and private homes and businesses.”

CropLife America has a long history of working cooperatively with EPA and the U.S. Congress on issues affecting crop protection, human health and the environment, Vroom said. Recently, however, businesses that support American agriculture have seen serious deviations from the regular order, transparency and scientific integrity of the federal government’s pesticide review process.

“We hope that today’s hearing will put EPA, other agencies and agriculture back on a path to a more productive dialogue that leads to reasonable, timely, and consistent solutions to our shared concerns.”

Vroom thanked Agriculture Committee Chairman Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., ranking member Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., for introducing the FIFRA Paperwork Reduction Act, which is aimed at clarifying that permits are not required for pesticides applied in compliance with FIFRA.

“CropLife America knows that the oversight and action of this committee may well determine whether the pesticide program descends into further disarray – regulating based on unsupported science, activism and politics – or whether you can thoughtfully guide EPA back to the order of FIFRA’s transparent, science-based review and rigorous process.”