Duskin says that Congress omitted pesticides when it enacted the Clean Water Act NPDES permitting program in 1972 and never looked beyond FIFRA for the regulation of pesticides.

By its calculations, the EPA believes the new permitting system will cover about 1.5 million pesticide applications per year. It anticipates the potential number of permit applicants at 365,000 and estimates the annual time burden at 1,033,713 hours for permittees and 45,809 hours for the 45 delegated permit authorities in the states.

H.R. 872 would amend FIFRA and the Clean Water Act to say that no permit is required for the labeled use of any registered pesticide. It would also instruct EPA and the courts that Congress did not intend other environmental laws to overtake FIFRA.

The bill passed the House on March 31 by a vote of 292-130 with all House Republicans and 57 Democrats voting in its favor. Despite the overwhelming approval in the House, it faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

“Why hasn’t the Senate taken action already?” asked Rep. Austin Scott, a new member of the House Agriculture Committee from Georgia’s Eight Congressional District. “My recollection is that that bill passed unanimously out of the committee. Every Democrat and every Republican voted for it.

“Lisa Jackson (EPA administrator) said it was EPA’s duty to keep the farmer on the farm,” Scott said in remarks to the SCPA members following lunch on Capitol Hill. “That kind of took me back because most of the people I know in agriculture think that you either have the EPA on the farm or the farmer on the farm but not both.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has introduced a bill, S-718, which would eliminate the CWA permit requirement for pesticides applied in compliance with FIFRA.

So far, Roberts’ bill has only attracted Republican co-sponsors. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has said she is not ready to support the Roberts’ bill because she is waiting on a response from EPA on questions raised during a meeting between several senators and EPA Administrator Jackson and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.