“The Sixth Circuit reversed over 30 years of precedent by using an unorthodox rationale that substituted its reasoning for the EPA’s informed decision-making,” NCC Chairman Jay Hardwick said. “The regulation that was struck down exempted certain pesticide applications from the Clean Water Act’s NPDES permit requirement if the application was made in accordance with the FIFRA label provisions.”
The Sixth Circuit’s erroneous opinion instead requires many producers to obtain an NPDES permit in order to apply pesticides in, above, or even near many waterways. The permit subjects the producer or health official to ineffective and burdensome regulation, as well as potential civil lawsuits. The EPA estimates that the ruling affects 365,000 pesticide applicators that perform roughly 5.6 million pesticide applications annually.
“It’s important that the Courts decide this issue correctly,” Hardwick added, “as it has a great impact on our agricultural system as well as our public health. Applicators need to be able to respond to potential pests that could harm crops and carry diseases.”
The Court’s decision creates duplicative regulation over pesticide applicators as they are already subject to FIFRA requirements that were put in place by Congress to govern the applications of pesticides. If the decision is allowed to stand, it could potentially unravel the current Clean Water Act’s agricultural exemptions for storm water runoff and irrigation return flow that have long protected farmers’ rights.