Monday, March 2, 2009

Pesticide Regulation Under Clean Water Act - Court Vacates NPDES Exemption

On January 7, 2009, an Appeals Court vacated a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that has allowed pesticides to be discharged to US waters without a National Pollutant Elimination System (NPDES) permit. As background, in November 2007 EPA had issued the final rule stating that pesticides applied in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are exempt from the Clean Water Act's permitting requirements.

The Clean Water Act regulates the discharge of pollutants into the nation's waters by, among other things, requiring entities that discharge pollutants to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. For almost thirty years prior to the adoption of the 2007 rule, pesticide labels issued under the FIFRA were required to contain a notice stating that the pesticide could not be "discharged into lakes, streams, ponds, or public waters unless in accordance with an NPDES permit".

The Appeals Court ruled that pesticide residues and biological pesticides constitute pollutants under federal law and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Water Act in order to minimize the impact to human health and the environment.

[Read an update on the Court ruling on NPDES permit requirement for pesticide applications]

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.

Caltha LLP Aquatic Toxicology / WQ Standards Services Website