|The Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act, or PACTPA bill, was introduced in the House and Senate yesterday that would (among other harmful impacts) ban state-wide pesticide preemption across the United States.
In the Senate, this bill was introduced by Senator Udall (D-NM) and original cosponsors include Senators Warren, Booker, and Sanders. A companion bill is being introduced in the House by Rep. Neguse (D-CO). This bill would have a devastating impact on pesticide registration and use in general and would repeal pesticide preemption nationwide.
The bill maintains that the EPA “regularly fails” to protect consumers under the Federal Fungicide, Rodenticide and Insecticide Act (FIFRA) as it makes decisions on “outdated science.” The bill begins with a laundry list of statements, from lauding the European Union and The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to banning pesticides in the name of pollinator health. This bill is also intended to overleap the EPA registration process because members of Congress do not agree with the outcomes.
Specific Issues Within the PACTPA
Repeals Preemption: This bill would remove pesticide preemption from every state that currently has it (45 to date). It would set the back every industry that depends on products regulated under FIFRA. This would have a devastating impact on every single pest management professional; you would be required to know the individual regulations on pesticide in every single jurisdiction your company operates in. If passed, this means every city, borough, parish, county, and town can and probably would have different rules and regulations of pesticides.
Designates “Dangerous Pesticides”: This bill would allow citizen petitions to designate pesticides as “dangerous”. Dangerous is defined as pesticides that are any of the following:
- acutely toxic
- an endocrine disruptor
- cause harm to a pregnant woman or a fetus
- cause neurological or developmental harm
While these factors are already considered, the changes leave this provision open to abuse, and the EPA would be overwhelmed with petitions. For example, the IARC list of what causes cancer goes far beyond what is supported in United States and can involve political rather than scientific designations; yet this would be considered valid data when determining whether to band a pesticide. The EPA Administrator must review the petition within 90 days. This unilateral decision based on uninformed citizen or activist group petitions will cause a glut of applications. If the Administrator doesn’t respond in 90 days, then the pesticide is automatically classified as dangerous. If the pesticide is deemed dangerous, then the Administrator must suspend registration. If the Administrator does not suspend! within 60 days after the decision, then the registration is immediately cancelled. A future Administrator who is more liberal may automatically grant these petitions, meaning pesticides could be banned with no input from registrants or users.
Citizen Suits: This bill allows citizen suits against the Administrator for failure to comply with any of these provisions. This means that any chemical denied “dangerous chemical” status will likely immediately result in a lawsuit. This will bog down the department and cost millions of taxpayer dollars.
Emergency Review of Pesticides Banned in other Countries: Any pesticide banned or suspended in the EU or Canada shall be immediately suspended in the United States. These pesticides would have an expedited review with a notice and comment period. According to the Bill’s sponsors, this would cover approximately one third of all registered pesticides. EPA is the global leader in pesticide registration and this provision would cause confusion and many countries base their decisions off different standards than the United States.
What is considered when a pesticide is reviewed? The only factors that can be considered are epidemiological data, peer reviewed literature, and data generated by the US or foreign governments or agencies. Economic data is not considered, meaning the costs or benefits to not using the pesticide shall not enter into any calculation. What this means practically is that if a pesticide is the best solution to treat a pest, and there aren’t any other appropriate pesticides that could be used then none of that could be factored in the ultimate determination. Hypothetically, this could mean that because a pesticide is banned in the EU or Canada, even if no alternative is available in the US, it would be suspended or banned here, despite the on the ground impacts, or the impact on public ! health or food safety.
Neonicotinoids Banned: All neonicotinoid registrations would be cancelled immediately, and no new registrations permitted, without taking into account structural uses that do not impact pollinators. This is not based on any science.
- All organophosphate pesticide registrations would be immediately cancelled and no new registrations allowed.
- All paraquat registrations immediately cancelled and no new registrations allowed.
- All inert ingredients must be published.
- Labels mandated in English and Spanish, as well as any other language where more than 500 individuals speaking said language are known to use the product.
- Emergency use exemptions may only be granted once in 10 years per product.
What’s next: This legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate. While passage is possible in the House given the Democrat/Republican makeup, it is exceedingly unlikely in the Senate this Congress. However, it is important to keep sponsors 0ff in the Senate in case the Senate flips to Democratic control next year, the filibuster is repealed, and the bill is reintroduced.
Although we don’t anticipate it will be passed into law in 2020, we certainly see this as a foreshadowing of this to come in the future.
Want more information? You can view the bill text here and the press packet here.