INHOFE INTRODUCES PEST MANAGEMENT AND FIRE SUPPRESSION FLEXIBILITY ACT

United States Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation to affirm the treatment of pesticides under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to protect the nation's food supply, public lands and the public health. ìUntil some recent court decisions, the application of agricultural and other pesticides in full compliance with labeling requirements did not require NPDES permits,î Senator Inhofe said. ìBecause pesticides undergo lengthy testing under FIFRA including tests to ensure water quality and aquatic species preservation, a NPDES permit was considered unnecessary and duplicative. These court decisions, commonly known as Talent and Forsgren, contradict years of federal policy and undermine the manner in which the Federal Government regulates farmers, foresters, irrigators, mosquito abatement officials, and other pesticide applicators.î The Pest Management and Fire Suppression Flexibility Act will codify the Environmental Protection Agencyís proposed rule reiterating that a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is not required when a pesticide is applied, consistent with its label, to, near or over a waterway. The bill goes a step further than the EPA proposed rule by affirming Congressional intent and the long-held positions of Republican and Democratic administrations that Clean Water Act permits are not needed for pesticides sprayed in full compliance with their EPA approved label. It further affirms long standing practices with regard to the Clean Water Act and fire suppression and other forest management activities. The EPAís proposed rule is an excellent step forward but it does not go far enough. It does not protect farmers, irrigators, mosquito abatement districts, fire fighters, federal and state agencies, pest control operators or foresters vulnerable to citizenís lawsuits, simply for performing long-practiced, expressly approved and already heavily regulated pest management and public health protection activities. Without such protection, those who protect us from mosquito borne illnesses, other pest outbreaks or combat destructive and catastrophic forest fires will remain vulnerable to lengthy and costly litigation. The Inhofe bill would provide this much needed protection from frivolous lawsuits.