The 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) fundamentally changed the way EPA regulates pesticides. FQPA mandated a single, health-based standard for all pesticides in all foods; provided special protections for infants and children; expedited approval of safer pesticides; and required periodic re-evaluation of pesticide registrations and tolerances to ensure that the scientific data supporting pesticide registrations will remain up-to-date in the future. Under FQPA, EPA was required to reevaluate, within 10 years, all food tolerances that were in place as of August 1996. The agency completed over 99% of the required tolerance reassessments on Aug. 3, 2006. This review resulted in changes to how golf course chemicals are regulated including elimination of certain uses and changes in labeling for others. In August 2006, EPA issued a final rule, which implemented a new Registration Review process. Starting in 2007, every pesticide active ingredient must be reviewed at least once every 15 years. The review of organophosphates began in 2008, and the review of the carbamates class started in 2009.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 established a new system for registering pesticides, called the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, or PRIA. Under PRIA, the pesticide industry pays over $40 million in pesticide registration and maintenance fees, which supplement federal appropriations, to provide timely resources for EPA’s registration and registration review efforts. About 1 of every 4 dollars available to the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs is derived from PRIA fees.
A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in January 2009 in the National Cotton Council vs. U.S. EPA case overturned the EPA’s Aquatic Pesticides Rule from 2006, which held that pesticides applied in accordance with Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) labels are exempt from the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) permitting requirements. Effective October 31, 2011, pesticide applications made in, over or near “waters of the U.S.” require a CWA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Never in the 65 years of FIFRA or 40 years of the CWA has the federal government required a permit for chemical spraying activities for control of such pests as mosquitoes, algae and invasive aquatic weeds. Congress omitted pesticides in 1972 when it enacted the CWA, and despite major rewrites since, has never looked beyond FIFRA for the regulation of pesticides. Unnecessary permitting places a significant economic burden on golf facilities who comprise a large group of small businesses. States spend significant resources in implementing and enforcing a permit that most regulators believe does little if anything to further protect water quality. Citizen action lawsuits can disrupt operations and jeopardize businesses. Future expansion of the permit is of concern.