Permitting for Pesticide Discharges into Navigable Waters: Issues and Legislation in the 115th Congress [June 28, 2018]   [open pdf - 305KB]

"Permitting requirements for using registered pesticides in or around the nation's waters has been a long-standing issue. Under the Clean Water Act (CWA; 33 U.S.C. §1251 et seq.), discharges of pollutants into navigable waters are unlawful unless specifically authorized by a permit. For decades following the enactment of the CWA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not consider registered pesticides used in compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA; 7 U.S.C. §136 et seq.) as pollutants that required permitting for their discharge into waters. However, in 2009, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that (1) the statutory definition of pollutant in the CWA encompasses biological pesticides and chemical pesticides that leave a residue in navigable waters, and (2) discharges of such pollutants require permitting. In response to the ruling, EPA issued a general discharge permit to cover the majority of pesticide applications resulting in point source discharges. States with delegated authority to issue their own discharge permits issued similar general discharge permits."

Report Number:
CRS In Focus, IF10919
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