EPA Removes NPDES Pesticide Exemption to Comply with Court Ruling

In a Federal Register notice this week, EPA took official action to remove an exemption for pesticide application over water that was invalidated by a federal court decision in 2012.  In a 2006 rule, EPA exempted from NPDES permits, certain pesticide applications to water if the applications complied with Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) requirements.  This eliminated the need for a permit under the Clean Water Act if the pesticide label requirements were followed.  The rule was challenged in court and a decision was issued in the case (National Cotton Council of America vs. EPA) in 2009 and the court mandated that EPA vacate the rule in 2012.  This action by EPA implements that court mandate.  Because the action is implementing a direct court mandate, no comment period is necessary and the action became effective June 27, 2013.

EPA has developed a general permit for pesticide applications over water to help ease the implementation burden caused by the court decision.  States with authority for NPDES permits may also have taken similar action.  More information can be obtained on the NPDES pesticide web page.