Industry Renegotiates Pesticide Registration Fees
Action: Support Industry Fees for Pesticide Hazard Reviews
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.
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
Call your U.S. Senators
in Washington, DC at 202-224-3121 and followup with an email, letter or
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 used pesticides.
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."
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 [email protected].