Opening Statement of Chairman Lucas at the Joint public hearing to consider reducing the regulatory burdens posed by the case National Cotton Council v. EPA (6th Cir. 2009)

Feb 16, 2011

Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184

I would like to thank the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the two Subcommittees (Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment) for holding this hearing.

This is an issue of critical importance to all of our constituents and I appreciate the bipartisan spirit in which this hearing has been organized.

I would also like to thank the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their assistance in improving the two separate bipartisan legislative proposals that were introduced in the last Congress. I am hopeful that the cooperation and support we have received from the agency is a signal of the administrator’s willingness to work together to solve problems confronting our constituents.

The issue before us today is extremely time-sensitive. If we fail to get bipartisan legislation to the President’s desk by April 9, an unquestionably naïve and irresponsible court order will be implemented, which will impose a disastrous burden on government budgets and equally ruinous costs on small businesses.

The draft legislation we are considering is intended to solve a very specific problem. Our request to the agency was for legislation consistent with its final regulation of November 27, 2006 and I am hopeful that the agency representative here today will verify that this is indeed the case.

EPA has administered a robust regulatory program for pesticides under the authority of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). It is my belief that sufficient authority exists under this act to balance the risks and benefits of pesticide applications.

Under FIFRA, the EPA may register a pesticide following a review of more than 120 mandated scientific studies. If the product can be used safely under specified conditions, the EPA will approve a label governing its use. Failure to comply with all label conditions is a violation of the Act, which the agency enforces using tools such as civil monetary penalties, including recovery of any economic benefit of non-compliance, and requiring correction of the violation. EPA may also issue a “Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order” prohibiting the person who owns, controls, or has custody of a pesticide in violation of the Act from selling, using, or removing that product.

I think we can all agree that compliance with FIFRA imposes an already substantial statutory and economic burden on the industry. In issuing its order, the 6th circuit has imposed a duplicative, burdensome and costly obligation on government and industry that provides no quantifiable benefit to human health or the environment. Having exhausted all judicial remedies, it now falls on Congress to resolve this matter. It is my sincere hope that we can all work together in a timely manner to do what must be done.

Thank you again to the Chairs for holding this hearing. I yield back.