Thursday March 16, 2017

Attendees Bring Pesticide, Business Issues to Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 400 pest management professionals braved a snowstorm this week to make their voices heard on a variety of pesticide and business issues at NPMA Legislative Day.

This was a milestone year for NPMA Legislative Day as it marked 30 years since the first event, which was attended by about 28 industry professionals. While the Legislative Day programming has changed throughout the years, the centerpiece of the program — members making visits to Capitol Hill — remains the same.

For this year's visits, attendees raised awareness about four pesticide- and business-related issues. In advance of their congressional visits, Andrew Bray, director of public policy, NPMA, and Jim Fredericks, director of technical services, NPMA, reviewed the following issues.

NPDES – An issue on the pest control industry's radar for many years has been the requirement of National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which the industry believes place a burden on the pest management industry. Despite the fact that pesticides applied in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) have already undergone a thorough review during the EPA registration and reregistration processes, NPDES permits are required under the Clean Water Act any time chemical pesticides are used in, over or near Waters of the United States (WOTUS). Bray said recent developments with regards to NPDES permits have been positive. In late February, the House Agriculture Committee approved the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act (H.R. 953), legislation that would eliminate NPDES permits. A counterpart bill in the Senate, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2017 (S. 340) also was introduced. Legislate Day attendees met with their Congressional representatives and encouraged them to support both HR 953 and S. 341.

Lowering the Corporate Tax Rate – The pest control industry has joined other industries in the fight to lower the corporate tax rate. In June 2016, Republicans published “A Better Way for Tax Reform.” Under the bold plan the corporate tax rate would drop from 35 percent to 20 percent. The plan also proposes to lower the S-Corp maximum level to 25 percent. “What that means is corporations are passed through entities meaning you don't pay taxes you pay on your personal income. Currently your personal income can be taxed as high as 38 percent. This tax reform would cap that at 25 percent — just a 13 percent reduction even for S-corps,” Bray said.

Funding EPA’s OPP – While the pest control industry has somewhat of a love-hate relationship with EPA, the agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs is viewed as vital; it is responsible for registering and reevaluating pesticides. Since 2010, EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs has seen a 25 percent decrease of full-time employees and since 2010 funding has dropped from approximately $143 million to $120 million. This drop in funding has resulted in an underfunded and understaffed office that bogs down the registration and reregistration process of pesticides. Legislative Day attendees asked their congressional reps to reauthorize PRIA (H.R. 1029) and protect OPP funding levels under the new administration.

Modernizing the Endangered Species Act – NPMA is part of a larger group that is pushing to modernize the Endangered Species Act (ESA). NPMA and others believe that the ESA, as currently drafted, is broken. The Department of Interior, specifically the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and National Marine Fisheries Services (collectively the Services), are tasked with implementing the ESA. Specific to the pest control industry, if this group believes that a pesticide going through new registration or registration-review may affect a listed species it may result in a slow-moving consultative process — involving scientific assessments with different standards and expertise — with EPA. NPMA believes this collaborative consultation process is broken and unnecessarily bureaucratic. Currently there is no pending legislation in Congress to address the ESA, so the goal at Legislative Day was for attendees to raise awareness of this issue with their legislators.