Thune’s complaints echoed those of Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who said it makes no sense for pesticide application to be subject to both FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). She was also displeased with the coming pesticide permits required by court ruling.

“CWA regulations are an unnecessary burden not only to applicators but to state regulatory authorities,” Lincoln told Jackson. “States like Arkansas are underfunded and struggle to keep up with existing laws and regulations and don’t need to spend time enforcing regulations that don’t improve the environment.

“EPA isn’t scheduled to finish the general permit until December 2010. I’ve heard it may be pushed back to January 2011. States are supposed to implement their permitting programs by April 2011. Frankly, I’m amazed your agency expects states to implement that general permit into law in a mere four months time. … We’re at the end of September and the possibility of (adhering to the proposed EPA) timeframe become more and more bleak.”

Like Lincoln, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the committee’s ranking member, brought up the short amount of time states will have to implement the permitting process by April 2011.

 “If the EPA will not change its position, I believe it needs to ask the court for more time – specifically for at least an additional year,” said Chambliss. “Would your agency be willing to do that?”

Jackson – who earlier said “although a general permit is probably the least intrusive regulatory method, I realize the preference of the ag community is ‘no permit’” -- wouldn’t commit.

“Right now, it’s important for folks to understand that EPA is working awfully hard with stakeholders to try and get compliance with the court’s judgment and decision,” said Jackson. “If, when we’re closer to (the December deadline) and decide we can’t get there, so be it.

“But we’ve been working very hard with the permitting authority in each state to implement a general permit that is workable and is a minimal additional burden to applicators, who already have to get permits for these pesticides in many, many states…  

“The permit is out for comment and … we’re in a period where that work continues. We’ll finalize it as expeditiously as possible and continue what’s already begun: extensive outreach that will morph into training. The states will be the ones to implement that permit and we’re very well aware of that.”