The House Ag Committee held a hearing Wednesday focusing on H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011. Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says this legislation would relieve producers from a potentially costly regulatory burden that would do little, if anything, to protect the environment. In 2006 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an EPA rule which specifically exempted permitting of certain pesticide applications under the Clean Water Act. The court's decision pre-empts the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act by the Clean Water Act. Peterson said this was not the intent of Congress.
The proposed legislation would restore congressional intent and address the court's ruling by amending both the Clean Water Act and FIFRA to prohibit permits for pesticide application when pesticides are applied consistent with FIFRA. Clean Water Act permitting requirements would place a massive burden and responsibility on the states and the EPA. Peterson says the last thing needed is more regulation coming from the EPA in this area.
"For too long we've watched organizations use the courts to twist laws against American farmers and agricultural production," Peterson said. "If we don't work together to find a solution, producers will likely continue being told how to operate by lawyers and judges who don't understand agriculture. The courts are not the place to decide agriculture policy. This legislation is a step in the right direction to address this problem."