Sixth Circuit Court Issues Stay in Pesticide Application Case

June 12, 2009 Bookmark and Share

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this week ordered a two-year stay of a January decision that will almost certainly mean producers will have to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for all applications of pesticides.

The ruling from the Court in National Cotton Council of America v U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was the first U.S. court ruling that pesticide discharge is a point source of pollution subject to additional regulation and permitting under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

NAWG and 21 other agricultural organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in April asking the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case. By contrast, the EPA, a party to the case, declined to request a rehearing despite urging from many in the agricultural community, and instead requested the stay granted Monday.

The Court’s recent order means that EPA will likely begin to write regulations to implement the Court’s ruling, a process in which NAWG plans to be as involved as possible.

EPA estimates the ruling will affect approximately 365,000 pesticide applicators that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually.