Pesticide Regulation

GCSAA believes that all pesticide uses should be under the legal primacy of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). GCSAA supports the goals of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). GCSAA supports the use of real data and sound scientific methodology to assess pesticides for risk. GCSAA and its members have and will continue to provide accurate and usable data to the regulatory and scientific communities for use in Registration Review implementation decisions. The continued availability of safe, effective and economically viable pesticide products is a top priority for GCSAA and its members.

EPA should return to the standards put forward by the White House in 2009 and 2011 and make regulatory decisions based on sound science, not public opinion. The agency should also cooperate with USDA and the other regulatory agencies as part of Registration and Re-Registration activities. It is important moving forward that EPA reestablish procedures we can all rely upon that preserves and protects FIFRA.

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.

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.

In March 2009, President Obama issued a Memorandum on Scientific Integrity that said the “public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions.” In March 2011, the White House issued a Memorandum to all Executive Departments and Agencies entitled “Principles for Regulation and Oversight of Emerging Technologies.” The 2011 Memo said “Federal regulations and oversight of emerging technologies should be based on the best available scientific evidence.” GCSAA has grown increasingly concerned these commitments to sound scientific principles are not being followed at EPA. The agency has been implementing policies at odds with established procedures. EPA actions on pollinators have appeared to be ad-hoc and responsive more to considerations of public perception and not based on established science underlying the issue. EPA’s reliance on epidemiological data in the case of its assessment of chlorpyrifos did not follow long established Agency standards for sound scientific risk assessment.

In 2012, GCSAA lobbied members of Congress in support of H.R. 6194, the U.S. Agricultural Sector Relief Act of 2012, which would put additional pressure on EPA to grant methyl bromide critical use exemptions.

In 2012, GCSAA submitted comments on EPA’s denial of a petition to suspend the clothianidin registration.

In 2013, GCSAA and its members participated in the focus meeting of the opening of the MSMA Registration Review docket.

In 2013, GCSAA worked with U.S. EPA to secure a methyl bromide critical use exemption until a suitable alternative is found.

On August 22, 2013, GCSAA offered the "Hazard Communication, the Globally Harmonized System & Your Golf Course" webcast to provide initial background on the update to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling.

GCSAA was able to secure from the U.S. E.P.A. a three year extension on the use of existing stocks of Nemacur.

At the 2014 Golf Industry Show, GCSAA presented the "Healthcare Reform and the Hazard Communication Standard: What You Need to Know Now" session which focused on implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Pesticide Labeling (GHS).

In 2015, GCSAA worked with industry and EPA on the Registration Review of the pyrethroid class of insecticides.

In 2015, GCSAA submitted public comment EPA’s proposed rule to amend applicator certification requirements for Restricted Use Pesticides.

In 2016, GCSAA worked with the Pesticide Policy Coalition on a strategic effort to ensure EPA follows its longstanding policy and procedures for pesticide regulation under FIFRA.

On July 26, 2016, GCSAA offered the "Globally Harmonized System & SDS Labels at Your Golf Course" webinar to provide update on the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling.