New Federal Pesticide Certification Rules Are Final
Monday, January 16, 2017
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In mid-December, the federal Environmental Protection agency (EPA) announced that the pesticide applicator certification regulations they have been working on for well over a year, are now final and published in the Federal Register. For background see PLNA e-News September 2015.
These regulations are the last of several regulatory packages affecting the green industry pushed through the regulatory process in the last two years of the Obama Administration.
Although the regulations are final, it could up to be five years before we will see the impact of the rules. State governments administer the pesticide certification programs on behalf of EPA under “Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.”
States have up to three years to develop a plan to implement the new rules and submit the plan to EPA for approval. EPA has up to two years to review and approve the plan. After EPA approval, there will be some time allowed for the plan to be implemented and for the industry to come into compliance.
What Will Trump Do?
The question on everyone’s mind is what will President-elect trump do? President-elect Trump has vowed to roll back many federal regulations, citing EPA as a prime example of regulatory overreach. But it will take more than a presidential signature to roll back regulations such as this and other federal regulations that have been enacted.
Once a regulation is made final and is published in the Federal Register, that regulation has the force and effect of law. Unlike executive orders issued by presidential signature, undoing or changing a federal regulation requires the same process of public review and comment as enacting a regulation in the first place.
Focus Moves to the States
One track that the new Trump Administration may take is to simply let the new pesticide regulations, now enacted, play out through the states. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) administers the pesticide regulations under delegation agreements with EPA. And while states can be no less stringent than the federal rules, states will have some latitude in how they interpret and implement the new regulations. PDA officials have said that the new rules will have only a minor impact on their program.
What Will the New Pesticide Rules Do?
According to EPA, the new regulations will:
- Enhance applicator competency standards to ensure that registered use pesticides (RUPs) are used safely.
- Establish a nation-wide minimum age (18) for certified applicators and persons working under their direct supervision.
- Establish a maximum recertification interval of 5 years for commercial and private applicators.
- Require specialized certifications for people using specific application methods (fumigation and aerial).
- Establish protection for noncertified applicators by requiring training before they can use RUPs (under the direct supervision of a certified applicator). Noncertified applicators have to complete the training outlined in the rule, complete Worker Protection Standard handler training, or complete a program approved by the state.
- Clarify and streamline requirements for states, tribes, and federal agencies to administer their own certification programs, while granting flexibility to tailor programs to the needs of each state, tribe, or federal agency.
PDA has produced a document that will help you understand the scope of the changes to Pennsylvania’s pesticide program. Click here to download it. Follow this link to see the full official version of the new rules.