WASHINGTON – On May 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 897, the Zika Vector Control Act 258-156. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), alters pesticide spraying permit requirements near waterways.
Gibbs warned that mosquitoes could start spreading the Zika virus in the United States this summer. He argued his legislation to lift regulations on spraying near waterways would make it easier to fight the disease, which endangers pregnant women. Gibbs' bill would establish that pesticides applied near waters don't need a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if the substance is being used for its intended purpose and the use complies with pesticide label requirements.
Gibbs argued that the permit requirement is redundant, as the pesticides are already approved under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and the additional permit process under the Clean Water Act is costly and burdensome. The National Pest Management Association has long opposed NPDES permit requirements for these same reasons; in fact, the association and its members voiced opposition to NPDES permits at this year’s Legislative Day.
The measure, which passed the House of Representatives under other names such as the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, in past years but never became law because the Senate didn't act. Now that the Senate is controlled by Republicans, its advocates - such as farming organizations - hope its prospects have improved.