Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Chairman K. Michael Conaway Committee on Agriculture Business Meeting Markup of H.R. 953, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017

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Washington, February 16, 2017 | comments
Now we will once again consider the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. As many of you will remember, this Committee met two years ago to mark up this very same bill text. In fact, this is the fourth time this Committee has marked up this bill.

The bill language was likewise included in the 2012 Farm Bill reported out of this committee, as well as in the 2013 Farm Bill the House sent to Conference. It was included in the Committee reported text of the FY 2012 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. But it has never gotten to the President’s desk.

As many of you recall, this bill language was drafted at our request by the EPA Office of General Council. The problem we asked EPA to help resolve stems from an uninformed court decision in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. This decision invalidated a 2006 EPA regulation exempting pesticide applications that are in compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act from having to also comply with a costly and duplicative permitting process under the Clean Water Act.

The attempt by those pressing this litigation to have federally registered public health, aquatic and agricultural pesticides regulated through the Clean Water Act permitting process is unnecessary, costly and ultimately undermines public health. It amounts to a duplication of regulatory compliance costs for a variety of public agencies, adds to their legal jeopardy, and threatens pesticide applicators.

This unnecessary mandate applies not only to local and state interests but also to federal agencies’ lands located in states directly regulated by the EPA. For example, federal agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers authorize use of some of their lands for many purposes including recreation and agriculture. These uses often require pesticide applications to prevent mosquito-transmitted diseases and for other purposes.

Therefore, though the local mosquito control district may be the entity actually applying the pesticide, the Army Corps District is required to obtain the permit and sign-off on related reports, thereby unnecessarily driving up costs to the federal government. Further, the experience has shown that the Corps is reluctant to assume permit responsibility for activities that it is not actually performing.

While the future of the Waters of the U.S. Rule is uncertain, this continues to be a regulatory burden that Congress never intended and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, once again.
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