WASHINGTON - The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) represents the pest control industry’s interests on Capitol Hill through intense lobbying efforts. But the nature of politics is such that the work of a few individuals can only do so much. No one voice carries more weight with PCOs’ elected officials than their own voice. It was for this reason that NPMA created Legislative Day 25 years ago. The idea was to hold a once-a-year educational conference in which attendees would meet with their representatives to increase the awareness of key legislative and regulatory issues impacting the pest management industry.
Throughout the years Legislative Day issues have changed, but the need to raise Capitol Hill awareness of issues impacting the pest control industry is as strong as ever. Attendees of the 2012 Legislative Day are heading to Capitol Hill this week to make their collective voices heard on the following issues.
Clean Water Act. Legislative Day attendees will be asking their representatives to support H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, legislation introduced in response to a January 2009 Federal Appeals Court ruling that requires costly and burdensome Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits for millions of pesticide applications. This ruling would impact many pest management professionals, especially those performing mosquito and aquatic weed treatments.
Russ Ives, president of Rose Pest Solutions, said it’s important to recognize the scope of these NPDES permits — that it’s not just about those making mosquito applications. “For example, making the argument alongside of us are agricultural interests,” said Ives. “There are many PMPs out there doing spider work around boathouses or homes near water that are making applications near areas that could be construed as bodies of water, even though they may not have appeared to be at the time of the service. They could be impacted.”
H.R. 872 passed the House in March 2011, but has stalled in the Senate.
“Essentially there are two senators — Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) — that have blocked it from coming to the floor,” said NPMA Director of Government Affairs Gene Harrington. “Supporters of this bill are looking for ways to get around that block, such as inserting the language of 872 into other bills, but have not had success yet. It’s important for Legislative Day attendees to remind their senators that the requirements associated with these permits are onerous, burdensome and, most importantly, completely unnecessary.”
Bed Bug Legislation Strategy Shifts
One of the goals of last year’s Legislative Day was for attendees to encourage their representatives to support H.R. 967, the “Bed Bug Management, Prevention and Research Act of 2011.” H.R. 967, introduced by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), initiated and directed a commonsense strategic federal response to the bed bug pandemic. H.R. 967 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, but NPMA Director of Government Affairs Gene Harrington said there might be opportunities to insert provisions or language from H.R. 967 into the Farm Bill. NPMA worked with Schmidt and her staff to develop many of the concepts in H.R. 967, including:
Endangered Species Act. In January 2011, the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the federal district court for the northern district of California, alleging that EPA had failed to take steps required by the Endangered Species Act to protect more than 200 endangered species that are located in every state and territory in the United States, except Alaska, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands.
The “megasuit” is more than 400 pages long and asks the court to protect more than 200 species by requiring EPA to initiate consultations with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service on almost 400 pesticide active ingredients, including most products used by PMPs. The pest management industry continues working closely with pesticide manufacturers and other affected stakeholders to represent the industry and defend the future use of threatened pesticides.
“These lawsuits pose a tremendous threat to the future availability of pesticides,” said Harrington. “It’s an issue we continue to be involved with on the legal side. NPMA has retained counsel to represent us in the megasuit, but at some point in time the law is going to have to be changed. It’s a train wreck. The activist groups have found a slam dunk legal strategy and it is definitely going to start to interfere with the use of legally registered products.”
Sulfuryl Fluoride Uses. In 2004, EPA registered sulfuryl fluoride for control of insect pests in harvested and processed foods such as cereal grains, dried fruits, tree nuts, cocoa beans, coffee beans, and also in food handling and processing facilities. The fumigant is considered an alternative to methyl bromide, which is being phased out. However, the product has come under attack from the activist group FAN (Fluoride Action Network), which has a waged a lengthy campaign to remove sulfuryl fluoride usage in food-processing facilities. FAN claims the use of sulfuryl fluoride will introduce unacceptable levels of fluoride to consumers and can cause medical risks, mainly dental fluorosis, a condition where overexposure to fluoride can damage the enamel on teeth.
Ives and others believe that the amount of fluoride people could be exposed to from sulfuryl fluoride is minimal, especially in comparison to other sources of fluoride such as water, food and toothpastes. “We really don’t believe that any of the dangers or issues related to fluoride are related to this product. It’s kind of a return to the Risk Cup concept,” Ives said. “In other words, eliminating it from [this use] will have virtually no impact on the exposure of the U.S. population to fluoride and conditions that overexposure may cause, such as flourosis.”
Nevertheless, in January 2011 EPA announced it is taking steps to begin a phased-down withdrawal of sulfuryl fluoride, and the agency accepted comments about this action from January 2011 until July 2011. NPMA and other groups submitted their comments to EPA; NPMA also has met with the agency about this issue several times. “At this time, EPA doesn’t appear to concede there is an administrative fix,” Harrington said. “They believe their hands are tied because of possible litigation and that they have to cancel the [food tolerance use]. We disagree with that assessment, so it is going to be increasingly important for PMPs to let their members of Congress know how valuable this product is.”
Featured Speakers. In addition to lobbying for the aforementioned issues, attendees of Legislative Day will hear from the following keynote speakers Haley Barbour (R-MS) and political strategist Dick Morris. Barbour, called one of “the most powerful Republicans in politics,” is the former governor of Mississippi and former chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. Barbour now works as a political strategist. Barbour’s presentation is sponsored by FMC Professional Solutions.
Among the most prominent American political consultants in the country, Morris is almost universally credited with piloting Bill Clinton to a stunning comeback re-election victory in 1996 after the president lost Congress to the Republicans two years prior. His presentation is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences.
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