Environmental Law Blog
U.S. EPA Agrees to Apply Exemption Ruled Illegal by 6th Circuit
The United States Justice Department recently announced that it will not seek rehearing of a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that invalidated the United States Environmental Protection Agency's rule exempting pesticide spray around waterways from Clean Water Act regulations.
In January, the 6th Circuit reversed an EPA decision that had exempted the spraying of pesticides into waters of the United States from the permitting requirements for water pollutants under the Clean Water Act. In reversing the EPA's decision, the Court held that pesticides are pollutants under the Clean Water Law and must be regulated to minimize impacts to human health and environment.
United States Department of Agriculture Director Tom Vilsack asked EPA to continue applying the exemption, but EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declined. Jackson did, however, agree to apply the exemption for two years in spite of the 6th Circuit's invalidation of the rule. Whether the 6th Circuit will approve EPA's decision to apply the exemption in spite of its ruling remains to be seen. Legal experts do not expect the 6th Circuit to grant EPA the authority to enforce an illegal rule.