The National Pest Management Association celebrated 25 years of Legislative Day last week, and while the issues have changed throughout years, the need to raise Capitol Hill awareness of issues impacting the pest control industry is as strong as ever.
|Past winners of the FMC Legislative Day Award were recognized at this year’s event, including those in attendance (from left to right): Judy Dold, Norm Goldenberg, Lonnie Alonso, Chris Gorecki, Bob Kunst, Russ Ives, Rick Bell, Joe Wilson and Donnie Blake. Recognizing the past recipients is FMC’s Amy O’Shea (far right).
WASHINGTON – The National Pest Management Association celebrated 25 years of Legislative Day last week, and while the issues have changed throughout years, the need to raise Capitol Hill awareness of issues impacting the pest control industry is as strong as ever.
Bob Rosenberg, senior vice president, NPMA, said he likens today’s political climate in Washington to that of 1996 when a flurry of legislation made its way through Congress. The Congress of 1996 had developed a reputation as a "do-nothing Congress" with little to show for itself. Many of these congressional members (about 470) were facing re-election and did not want to return to their constituents with that type of reputation. So, in the course of two weeks that Congress passed the Health Care Affordability Act; a Medicare bill; the Safe Drinking Water Act; and the Food Quality Protection Act. “We’re in precisely the kind of climate where things can happen and they can happen fast,” said Rosenberg.
Attendees of the 2012 Legislative Day headed to Capitol Hill last week to make their collective voices heard on the following issues.
Clean Water Act. Legislative Day attendees asked their representatives to support H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. This legislation was necessitated by a misguided 2009 federal court ruling that requires costly and burdensome Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits for millions of pesticide applications. The permit will interfere with and add cost to longstanding activities such as mosquito control and aquatic weed work – work performed by some pest management professionals. Legislation exempting lawful pesticide applications from CWA permitting requirements passed the U.S. House with overwhelming bipartisan support last March. Despite widespread support, H.R. 872 has not been given an up or down vote in the U.S. Senate.
SEPA. Congressman Rush Holt (D-N.J.) is expected to introduce the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA), a prescriptive, one-size fits all bill that would require schools in Georgia to manage pest just as schools in Alaska, regardless of pest pressure or other geographical factors. Almost 40 states have laws or regulations in place specific to the management of pests in school – some of which are more than 20 years old – and SEPA would only serve to undermine those laws and confuse the many stakeholders that have helped craft and are impacted by such policies.
|Political strategist Dick Morris.
Legislative Day attendees encouraged their representatives to consider the industry’s position on SEPA: that any effort to move SEPA – either as a stand-alone bill or as an amendment to another measure – should be rejected, as states are effectively regulating the management of pests at schools and don’t need federal legislation interfering with and undermining their efforts in this area.
Sulfuryl Fluoride Uses. In 2004, EPA registered sulfuryl fluoride for control of insect pests in harvested and processed foods such as cereal grains, dried fruits, tree nuts, cocoa beans, coffee beans, and also in food handling and processing facilities. The fumigant is considered an alternative to methyl bromide, which is being phased out. However, the product has come under attack from the activist group FAN (Fluoride Action Network), which has a waged a lengthy campaign to remove sulfuryl fluoride usage in food-processing facilities. FAN claims the use of sulfuryl fluoride will introduce unacceptable levels of fluoride to consumers and can cause medical risks, mainly dental fluorosis, a condition where overexposure to fluoride can damage the enamel on teeth. However, even U.S. EPA acknowledges that sulfuryl fluoride contributes no more that 2-3% of the public’s exposure to fluoride, noting that “Use of sulfuryl fluoride is responsible for a tiny fraction of aggregate fluoride exposure” and “Elimination of sulfuryl fluoride does not solve, or even significantly decrease, the fluoride aggregate exposure problems...” Furthermore, over the last several years, US EPA has aggressively encouraged the professional pest management industry and the food sector to move from methyl bromide – a fumigant identified as an ozone depleting substance and slated for phase-out – to sulfuryl fluoride, and both the pest management industry and food sector have been moving in good faith to sulfuryl fluoride. Some groups in the food sector are now completely reliant on sulfuryl fluoride and the loss of the product would have devastating economic consequences. The industry’s position is that the U.S. EPA should withdraw its misguided proposed order cancelling the food uses for sulfuryl fluoride and Congress should closely oversee the Agency to see that it does so.
Bed Bugs. H.R. 967, the “Bed Bug Management, Prevention and Research Act of 2011,” was introduced by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH). It initiated and directed a common-sense strategic federal response to the bed bug pandemic. Specifically, the bill authorizes, as part of an existing program, federal bed bug research funding to resume, on a broad scale, work that has been neglected for 50 years and requires efficacy testing for minimum risk pesticides – pesticide that are exempt from US EPA’s registration process - to protect consumers from products that don’t effectively manage bed bug infestations. H.R. 967 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, but NPMA believes there might be opportunities to insert provisions or language from H.R. 967 into the 2012 Farm Bill.
OTHER ACTIVITIES. In addition to lobbying for the aforementioned issues, attendees of Legislative Day heard from the following keynote speakers: Haley Barbour (R-MS) and political strategist Dick Morris. Barbour, called one of “the most powerful Republicans in politics,” is the former governor of Mississippi and former chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. Barbour now works as a political strategist. Barbour’s presentation was sponsored by FMC Professional Solutions.
Among the most prominent American political consultants in the country, Morris is almost universally credited with piloting Bill Clinton to a stunning comeback re-election victory in 1996 after the president lost Congress to the Republicans two years prior. His presentation was sponsored by Dow AgroSciences.
Legislative Day also included several educational sessions covering a variety of issues important to the pest control industry, including a panel discussion about how changes to the pyrethroid label will impact the pest control industry. The FMC Legislative Day Award was presented to Larry Treleven on Monday; and on Tuesday, PCT presented the 2011 Technician of the Year Awards to this year’s winners. PCT will have additional coverage of Legislative Day online and in print.