House Passes Bill to Limit EPA Authority While Senate Considers EPA Amendments
April 1st, 2011
On Thursday, March 31, the House of Representatives passed the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872), a bill that would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from requiring entities to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Eliminations System (NPDES) permit for the application of pesticides near navigable waters, so long as they are already registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
The bill, offered by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) and 137 cosponsors, was passed 292-130. It was offered in response to a 2009 court case, National Cotton Council v. EPA, in which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements apply to farmers who are applying pesticides in or near waterways.
Before it can become law, the bill would have to be passed by the Senate and signed by the President. It is considered unlikely to become law in its current form.
A chart comparing regulations under FIFRA and under the CWA can be found here.
Beyond the House bill, the Senate is considering four separate amendments to limit EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A proposal by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would permanently eliminate EPA’s authority to regulate GHGs. Three Democratic Senators — Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) — have offered alternative amendments to restrict but not eliminate EPA’s power to regulate GHGs.
If passed, each amendment would be attached to S. 493, a small business bill entitled the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011. Both the Stabenow amendment and the Rockefeller amendment would delay for two years EPA’s ability to enforce new greenhouse gas regulations. Both the Stabenow amendment and the Baucus amendment would permanently exempt agricultural GHG emissions from regulation. The Baucus amendment would also limit EPA’s GHG regulatory authority to the largest polluters.
The Senate is expected to vote on S. 493 and the four Senate amendments at some point between Tuesday and Friday of next week.