In January, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Pesticide General Permit for Point Source Discharges From the Application of Pesticides; Reissue. The NPDES general permit is required by federal law to be renewed on a five year cycle, with the current general permit expiring on October 31, 2021. The published draft general permit is essentially the same as the previous and only minor changes were proposed.
The requirement for NPDES permits is a result of a 2009 U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Nat’l Cotton Council v. EPA. The court determined that under the Clean Water Act (CWA) discharges of pollutants (chemical pesticides) into Waters of the United States (WOTUS) shall require obtaining an NPDES permit. The ruling came despite EPA’s opposition and argument that pesticides applied in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are exempt from CWA’s permitting requirements. Subsequently, EPA created the general NPDES permit for pesticides in October of 2011 was renewed in 2016 and the permit is now required to be renewed by October 31, 2021. NALP opposes the requirements for NPDES permits but unfortunately this requirement cannot be changed through regulation but rather requires a statutory fix. We appreciate that EPA has kept this reauthorization proposal the same as the previous two versions to ease compliance. NALP will be providing comments to EPA and will continue to work with members of the Pesticide Policy Coalition in pushing for a legislative fix, last tried in the 2018 Farm Bill.