Daily News Archive
Industry Renegotiates Pesticide Registration Fees
Action: Support Industry Fees for Pesticide Hazard Reviews
(Beyond Pesticides, October 28, 2003) Congress is considering
an amendment to appropriations legislation that will allow EPA to collect
registration and tolerance fees from pesticide manufacturers. The amendment
incorporates the language of S. 1664, The
Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2003. For six years,
Congress, at the urging of the chemical industry, has passed a "rider"
to appropriations bills which has prevented EPA from carrying out its
statutory authority to charge the industry for the full cost of the
government's hazard review programs. The pesticide registration, reregistration
and tolerance (acceptable residues) review programs were intended by
Congress to be self-supporting in two federal pesticide law revisions
in 1988 and 1996, shifting costs originally borne by taxpayers to the
chemical industry. S. 1664 represents a renegotiation of industry fees
previously agreed to in the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act,
in an effort to enable EPA to meet its pesticide review deadlines.
What Is in It
for the Chemical Industry?
Why would the chemical industry agree to pay fees that it has successfully
blocked, even though it helped structure and signed off on the fee schedule
in two major pieces of legislation it negotiated? Maybe it is because
the pesticide industry will, under S. 1664, receive a lower total bill
from EPA to review and register its chemicals than it agreed to pay
when it supported the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) in 1996
and amendments to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide
Act (FIFRA) in 1988. In fact, had Presidents Clinton and Bush budget
proposals not been blocked from fiscal years 2000 through 2003, the
industry would have paid $294 million in fees, according to an industry
trade group memo. The industry, under the new renegotiated fees agreement
in the legislation, will pay a little more than $200 million over the
next five years.
What Is in It
for the Public Interest?
Environmental, labor, consumer groups and Congressional allies, unable
to prevent the blocking of fees, see this deal as giving EPA much-needed
funds to carry out its pesticide reviews. It also ensures that the fee-generated
funds specifically support EPA's pesticide program, and do not end up
in the U.S. Treasury where they can be used to pay down the skyrocketing
Can the Chemical
Industry Be Trusted to Stick to the Agreement This Time?
The legislation raises for some environmentalists the larger question
of whether the chemical industry can be trusted to live by its agreements
with Congress, regulators and public interest groups. According to Jay
Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, "For the past
six years, the pesticide industry has sabotaged a major element of the
FQPA agreement to which it was a party."
Here is what the
White House office of the press secretary said when the rider was introduced
[A] rider on the
House VA/HUD bill would cripple efforts to protect the public from dangerous
pesticides by barring the Environmental Protection Agency from collecting
fees from pesticide makers to support mandatory safety reviews. The
proposed EPA rule to assess the fees is required under the Food Quality
Protection Act, passed overwhelmingly by Congress, which calls for systematic
reviews of the potential health risks posed by thousands of commonly
The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed an appropriations
bill that would extend the rider, or ban on collecting these fees, for
another year (FY 2004). The Senate, however, is still considering its
appropriations bill, which it will take up in the near future. Given
broad agreement that fees are needed to move EPA's pesticide review
program, advocates are hoping to use the appropriations vote in the
Senate to move legislation that removes the rider and replaces it with
a new fee structure. Senator Christopher (Kit) Bond (R-MO), chair of
the Senate VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction
over pesticides, has expressed concern that the adoption of a fees bill
would amount to legislating on an appropriations bill. However, because
of the broad support for the bill, supporters hope the Senate will use
the appropriations vehicle, accept the bill language under a unanimous
consent rule, without debate and amendments, and then adopt it in a
House-Senate conference. The word on Capitol Hill is that Senator Bond
needs some convincing.
Why the Bill
is Better Than the Current Situation
The legislation, S. 1664 and H. R. 3188, The Pesticide Registration
Improvement Act of 2003, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Thad
Cochran (R-MS) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), and in the House by Reps. Lucas
(R-OK), Goodlatte (R-VA) and Stenholm (D-TX), is supported by a coalition
of industry, environmental, consumer and labor groups. Even though the
industry will pay considerably less (at least one-third less) than it
would have paid under budget proposals issued by both a Democrat and
Republican President, EPA's pesticide program will actually get more
than it might have under those proposals. Under Bush's FY 2004 proposal,
for example, out of $62.5 million that the industry would have paid,
$26 million would have gone to the U.S. Treasury and $36.5 million would
have gone to EPA.
Under the fees bill,
it is calculated that $44.6 will be paid to EPA. The bill also establishes
a fund, between $750,000 and $1 million, specifically to address worker
protection, and an amount not to exceed $500,000 to evaluate new inert,
or secret non-disclosed, ingredients in pesticide products.
Future costs for pesticide reregistration could rise faster than the
schedule in the legislation as EPA develops, for example, an estrogenic
screening program to evaluate endocrine disrupting effects of pesticides,
as required by FQPA. In the past, EPA has said that the full costs of
review could not be determined until its policies and guidelines for
endocrine disrupting pesticides are adopted. Discussions have begun
to add language that requires EPA to study future reregistration needs
and report back to Congress so that it can adjust future fees to cover
any new required reviews.
In addition, the
bill's language includes a fee waiver or reduction for so-called "minor
use" pesticides that generate lower profit margins for chemical
manufacturers and is deemed to be "in the public interest,"
or for small businesses whose global sales do not exceed $10 million
at the time of application. Minor use pesticides are those commonly
used on fruits, vegetable and specialty crops, for which there are lower
volume industry sales but often higher public exposure, as distinguished
from major crops such as wheat, corn, oats, etc. Finally, the bill establishes
priority review for pesticides that EPA has labeled "reduced risk."
Let your Senators know that you support the fees bill, S. 1664, The
Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2003, being attached as
an amendment to the Appropriations Bill to substitute for and put an
end to the Congressional ban (rider) on charging fees to the chemical
industry for EPA's hazard review of pesticides. Let your Senators know
that this is an important step in funding EPA reviews that were mandated
by Congress under the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996. Ask
your Senators to contact Mr. Bond, chairman of the VA-HD Appropriations
Subcommittee and ask him to allow the amendment to be attached to the
FY 2004 Senate Appropriations Bill.
Call your U.S. Senator
in Washington, DC at 202-224-3121 and followup with an email, letter
Please let us
know who you called and who you spoke with so that we can follow-up.
For more information, contact Jay
Feldman, Beyond Pesticides, 202-543-5450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.