Week ahead: House to take up EPA pesticide bill

A GOP-backed bill to loosen environmental regulations is poised to advance in the House. 

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to take up the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, reintroduced by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), on Monday, with a floor vote likely later in the week.

The legislation would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). It would eliminate the need for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for using pesticides already approved for use under FIFRA.

The requirement is the result of a 2009 decision in National Cotton Council v. EPA in which the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the EPA's conclusion that pesticides applied in accordance with FIFRA are exempt from the Clean Water Act's permitting requirements. 

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“This is a classic example of why so many Americans are frustrated with Washington,” Gibbs said in a statement in February.

“Bureaucratic red tape is making it more difficult and costly for farmers to responsibly protect their crops or local mosquito and pest control agencies to safeguard public health. Requiring an NPDES permit is unnecessary. It only adds compliance costs, and no new environmental protections." 

The bill first passed the House in 2011. 

Last year, House GOP leaders retooled it as an effort to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. It passed along party lines 258-156 with all but 23 Democrats opposed. 

Agencies will also be bracing on Tuesday for President Trump's budget for the fiscal 2018 year.

Trump is expected to propose sharp cuts to many agencies. It's unlikely the president's blueprint will pass Congress. And many of Trump's proposed cuts are facing opposition even from Republican lawmakers.

Also on the environmental front, a House Science subcommittee will hold a hearing Tuesday on expanding the role states play in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rulemaking process.

A House Education and Workforce subcommittee on Tuesday will examine regulations and enforcement actions taken by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

A Senate Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday to examine pool safety requirements.

Also Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on the “impacts of federal natural resources laws gone astray.”

 

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