EPA Extends Expiration Deadline for Pesticide Applicator Certification Plans

This original announcement was published by the EPA on December 17, 2021. Click here for more information.

Today, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing an extension to the expiration deadline of federal, state, territory, and tribal certification plans. The 2017 Certification of Pesticide Applicators final rule had set stronger standards for people who apply restricted use pesticides (RUPs) and required that states, territories, tribes and federal agencies with existing certification plans submit proposed modifications by March 4, 2020, to comply with the updated federal standards. As specified in the rule, existing certification plans remain in effect until EPA completes its reviews and approves the proposed plan modifications, or until those plans otherwise expire on March 4, 2022, whichever is earlier. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the complexity of plans, and the need for careful review of program-specific issues and questions, EPA is extending the existing plans’ expiration deadline from March 4, 2022, to November 4, 2022.

This interim final rule allows additional time for proposed certification plan modifications to continue being reviewed and approved by EPA without interruption to federal, state, territory, and tribal certification programs or to those who are certified to use RUPs under those programs. During the extension, EPA will issue a proposed rule and seek public comment through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the need for extending the expiration date beyond November 4, 2022.

EPA has reviewed all proposed plan modifications and is making progress on sending agency comments to certifying authorities. To date, EPA has completed 45 final reviews of the 68 plans submitted by certifying authorities (states, territories, tribes and other federal agencies). During the extension, EPA and certifying authorities will continue to work together so that all plans meet the federal standards. EPA also intends to provide periodic notifications to the public when approvals have occurred. Any additional extension pursued by the Agency will be informed by both the progress on plan reviews and approvals during this extension period, and by the public comments on this interim final rule and the NPRM.

EPA encourages all stakeholders to submit comments on this current deadline extension, as well as comments on the need for, or concerns over, further extending the expiration date of existing plans. Comments submitted on this interim final rule will be considered in the development of the final rule.

EPA Decreases Annual Pesticide Registration Maintenance Fees

This original announcement was published by the EPA on December 10, 2021. Click here for more information.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a notification informing pesticide registrants of a decrease in the annual pesticide registration maintenance fee. The fee for 2022 is $3,660 per product, an 8.5% decrease from the previous year.  

The Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2018 (PRIA 4) authorizes the agency to collect an average of $31 million per year for each of the fiscal years 2019 through 2023 for a total of $155 million. With $92.6 million collected in the first three years, an additional $62.4 million may be collected in the remaining years of PRIA 4. Due to over 500 new products subject to the annual fee in the last two years, EPA has reduced the fee amount to avoid an over-collection of the fee in 2022. The new product fee amount is estimated to collect $31.2 million in fiscal year 2022, which is half of what EPA may still collect under PRIA 4. 

All registrants with Section 3 and Section 24(c) pesticide product registrations have received an email to notify them of this change. Registrants will need to access their product filing forms, pay maintenance fees and return completed documents to EPA for processing by Tuesday, January 18, 2022. 

For more information and to access instructions, the maintenance fee filing form, fee tables and product listings grouped by company numbers, please visit the Annual Pesticide Registration Maintenance Fees webpage 

EPA Announces Updated Schedule, Completes Safety Assessments and Decisions for Hundreds of Pesticides to Address Risk and Ensure Safe Pesticide Use

This original announcement was published by the EPA on December 2, 2021. Click here for more information!

 

Today, EPA is releasing the registration review schedule for the next four years through fiscal year 2025. While EPA has historically updated this schedule once each year, it will be updated on a quarterly basis going forward.

In 2007, an amendment to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) formalized a requirement that EPA review each registered pesticide at least every fifteen years. During the registration review process, EPA completes draft risk assessments, proposed interim decisions/proposed decisions, and interim decisions/final decisions. Throughout, EPA makes its information, assessments, and supporting material for each case available to the public through the case’s docket at regulations.gov.

Registration review ensures that, as the ability to assess risk evolves and as policies and practices change, the pesticide continues to meet the statutory standard of causing no unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment. When EPA identifies risks of concern to human health or the environment, it imposes pesticide label amendments designed to reduce risk. Mitigation measures can include the cancellation of uses or pesticide registrations, reduced application rates, spray drift restrictions, personal protective equipment, and advisory language, among myriad other options.

For the 726 pesticide cases that were registered before October 1, 2007, the amendment to FIFRA required EPA to complete its review by October 1, 2022. Working toward this goal over the past fifteen years, EPA has:

  • Issued more than 550 interim or final decisions,
  • Completed more than 600 proposed interim decisions,
  • Conducted more than 680 human health and ecological draft risk assessments (excluding endangered species assessments),
  • Imposed new risk mitigation requirements for 51 percent of antimicrobial pesticides and 70 percent of conventional pesticides for which EPA issued an interim or final decision, and
  • Cancelled some or all uses in 120 cases.

Today’s updated registration review schedule provides a roadmap for the next several years of EPA’s registration review program. For some pesticides registered before October 1, 2007, EPA anticipates that its review will extend beyond October 1, 2022 due to a number of challenges including delays in receiving data from registrants; the demands of responding to COVID-19; and a significant increase in recent years of resources devoted to litigation.

Complying with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is also part of the registration review process. Since 2007, EPA has completed ESA assessments for certain high priority pesticides and, in the coming years, plans to assess the effects of many more pesticides on endangered species in registration review. Further, in the coming months, the Agency will release its first ESA pesticides workplan, which will outline steps the Agency will take to come into compliance with the ESA in ways that are fair and transparent to the agriculture sector.

By following the science and making evidence-based decisions that rely on the input of career scientists, EPA will continue to ensure that risk assessments and regulatory decisions reflect the best available public health and ecological science.

Visit EPA’s website for more information on the registration review process and the updated schedule of upcoming registration review actions.

EPA Publishes Memorandum Containing Revised Framework and Response to Comments to Improve Pest Resistance for Plant-Incorporated Protectants

This original announcement was published by the EPA on December 1, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

Today, EPA published a memorandum addressing resistance risks to lepidopteran pests of corn and cotton containing the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Plant-Incorporated Protectant (PIP). Bt PIPs, which are pesticidal substances genetically engineered into corn and cotton to control insect pests, are one of the safest methods of insect control, and, when used properly, they can greatly reduce the need for conventional pesticides. However, since commercialization of Bt PIPs, some species of lepidopteran pests of corn and cotton have developed resistance to certain Bt toxins. 

In 2018, EPA hosted a Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) to help pesticide registrants better detect and manage arising resistance cases. In 2020, utilizing many of the recommendations from SAP experts, EPA released a draft framework for pest resistance management for public comment. 

Following the 2020 public comment period, EPA revised the framework to incorporate recommendations regarding key pest resistance management components. This includes, but is not limited to, changes to the resistance definition, resistance monitoring, mitigation methods, annual reporting and product phase downs. 

The memorandum released today includes EPA’s response to comments received during the 2020 comment period and a revised framework for pest resistance management that incorporates stakeholder feedback. This framework is intended to extend the longevity of Bt PIPs as effective pest management tools. 

Moving forward, the agency will work with Bt PIP registrants to amend their existing product registrations to be consistent with the revised framework. EPA expects to finalize the framework in 2022. 

View the memorandum. 

Learn more about Bt PIPs and pest resistance management strategies.

EPA Extends Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance for COVID‑19

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 19, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

EPA recognizes that public health concerns due to COVID-19 are ongoing and therefore is indefinitely extending COVID-19 activation of the emerging viral pathogens (EVP) guidance for antimicrobial pesticides. EPA’s EVP guidance for antimicrobial pesticides is a part of the federal government’s pandemic preparedness, allowing manufacturers to provide the Agency with data, even in advance of an outbreak, demonstrating that their products are effective against hard-to-kill viruses.

EPA activated its EVP guidance for antimicrobial pesticides for the first time in January 2020, in response to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the United States. For more than 12 months, the Agency allowed for expedited review and approval of surface disinfectant products for use against SARS-CoV-2, including accelerated review for products seeking to add EVP claims to product labels. To date, EPA has added approximately 400 products with emerging viral pathogens claims to its list of Disinfectants for Coronavirus (List N).

Typically, registrants must remove EVP claims from consumer messaging no later than 24 months after the original notification of the outbreak, unless directed otherwise by EPA. With this extension, EPA will now provide a notification at least six months before inactivating the EVP guidance for SARS-CoV-2 to allow registrants time to adjust product marketing materials as required.

EPA Releases Final Biological Evaluations for Glyphosate, Atrazine, and Simazine

This original announcement was published by the EPA on November 12, 2021. Click here for more. 

After consideration of public comments, EPA has finalized its biological evaluations (BEs) for glyphosate, atrazine, and simazine, three herbicides that are used to control a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds. EPA has also released a summary document of comments received on the draft BEs and EPA’s responses. A BE is a document that contains EPA’s analysis of the potential effects of a pesticide on federally threatened or endangered species and their designated critical habitat. It includes any conclusions that the pesticide may affect, and is likely to adversely affect, any of these species or habitats.

EPA evaluated glyphosate, atrazine, and simazine to determine whether they may affect one or more species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or their designated critical habitats. The BEs find that all of these chemicals may affect, and are likely to adversely affect, certain listed species or their designated critical habitats. These evaluations encompass all registered uses and approved product labels for pesticide products containing these three herbicides.

The “likely to adversely affect” (LAA) determination means that EPA reasonably expects that at least one individual animal or plant, among a variety of listed species, may be exposed to the pesticide at a sufficient level to have an effect, which will be adverse. The LAA threshold for a BE is very sensitive because the likely “take” of even one individual of a species, which includes unintentional harm or death, triggers an LAA determination. This is the case even if a species is almost recovered to a point where it no longer needs to be listed. As a result, there is a high number of  “may affect” and LAA determinations in these BEs. An LAA determination, however, does not necessarily mean that a pesticide is putting a species in jeopardy. Jeopardy determinations will be made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively “the Services”) in the course of formal consultation that evaluates any effects of the pesticides on entire species.

In early 2021, atrazine and simazine registrants requested to voluntarily prohibit use of atrazine and simazine in Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. territories and to delete certain uses from their product registrations. Registrants took this action to reduce the potential overlap between where these pesticides can be used and listed species and their critical habitats. Atrazine uses were cancelled for roadsides, Conservation Reserve Program land, conifers, including Christmas tree plantings, timber and forestry, and miscanthus and other perennial bioenergy crops. Simazine uses were cancelled for shelterbelts and forestry (except for Christmas tree plantings). EPA issued a notice of receipt of the use cancellation requests on June 23, 2021, and a final notice to terminate certain uses and cancel certain products containing atrazine and simazine on November 1, 2021. In reducing potential overlap, the geographic use prohibitions and voluntary use cancellations effectively reduced the number of LAA determinations in the final BEs for atrazine and simazine.

In January 2021, the only propazine registrant requested to voluntarily cancel its remaining product registrations. On June 8, 2021, EPA issued a final cancellation order for propazine, which terminated the last propazine products registered in the United States, therefore EPA did not complete a BE for propazine.

The Services will use the information in EPA’s final BEs for these three herbicides to develop their biological opinions (BiOps). The Services may also conduct additional analyses and use additional information that EPA and the applicants provide to support their BiOps. In a BiOp, the Services document their determination of whether a pesticide is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species and whether there will be adverse modification to its designated critical habitat. If jeopardy or adverse modification is determined, the Services, with input from EPA and the registrants, will propose additional protections.

Read the final biological evaluations for glyphosateatrazine, and simazine on our website. To learn more about these BEs, see the Frequently Asked Questions

Read the response to comments document.

 

EPA Updates the Environmental Chemistry Methods Index for Monitoring Pesticide Residues

This announcement was published on October 29, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated the Environmental Chemistry Methods (ECM) Index, a list which currently includes 865 analytical methods for monitoring pesticide residues, primarily in soil or water. In the past year, 65 new analytical methods have been added to the ECM Index, including six methods for newly-registered pesticides. The ECM reports listed in the ECM Index were submitted to EPA by pesticide registrants to support submitted field and monitoring studies, and potential monitoring by states, tribes, and other entities.

ECMs may be used in conjunction with Aquatic Life Benchmarks, which are estimated concentrations below which pesticides are not expected to present a risk of concern for freshwater organisms. Comparing concentrations of a pesticide in water using ECMs to Aquatic Life Benchmarks can be helpful in interpreting monitoring data and in identifying and prioritizing monitoring sites for further investigation. State, tribal, and local governments as well as international regulatory authorities and researchers may use these ECMs in their work.

EPA intends to update the ECM Index quarterly and as new chemicals are registered.

EPA Updates the Environmental Chemistry Methods Index for Monitoring Pesticide Residues

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 29, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated the Environmental Chemistry Methods (ECM) Index, a list which currently includes 865 analytical methods for monitoring pesticide residues, primarily in soil or water. In the past year, 65 new analytical methods have been added to the ECM Index, including six methods for newly-registered pesticides. The ECM reports listed in the ECM Index were submitted to EPA by pesticide registrants to support submitted field and monitoring studies, and potential monitoring by states, tribes, and other entities.

ECMs may be used in conjunction with Aquatic Life Benchmarks, which are estimated concentrations below which pesticides are not expected to present a risk of concern for freshwater organisms. Comparing concentrations of a pesticide in water using ECMs to Aquatic Life Benchmarks can be helpful in interpreting monitoring data and in identifying and prioritizing monitoring sites for further investigation. State, tribal, and local governments as well as international regulatory authorities and researchers may use these ECMs in their work.

EPA intends to update the ECM Index quarterly and as new chemicals are registered.

EPA Takes Action to Prevent Ecological Risks from Two Herbicides

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 22, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing the interim registration review decisions (IDs) for the pesticides aminopyralid and picloram, finalizing stronger measures to help prevent residues from contaminating compost and damaging non-target plants in sites where compost is applied. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act requires the agency to periodically re-evaluate pesticides through registration review to ensure that risk assessments and pesticide decisions reflect the best available science. The ID is one of the final stages of the registration review process and implements risk mitigation to address risks of concern.

Aminopyralid and picloram are pyridine herbicides used in both agricultural and non-agricultural settings. Agricultural use sites include pastures and rangeland. Non-agricultural use sites include turf, industrial areas, rights of ways, roadsides and other non-agricultural sites. Aminopyralid and picloram are used to control of a wide range of broadleaf and woody weed species in pasture and rangeland, particularly invasive species and help preserve conservation land due to their ability to target hard to control weeds without damaging native vegetation.

Pyridine herbicides such as aminopyralid and picloram have a history of reported compost incidents. Residues in contaminated compost can persist and damage non-target plants in residential gardens and other sites. Compost contamination occurs when treated materials, or manure from animals that consumed treated materials, are collected and recycled into compost. For many years, EPA has been engaging with stakeholders to identify effective measures to prevent damage to non-target plants where compost is applied. EPA is now requiring the following mitigation measures to reduce the potential for residues of these herbicides in compost:

  • Prohibition of off-site use of treated plant materials and manure from grazing animals for compost and animal bedding/feed until 18 months after application to allow for residues to decline;
  • Requiring that livestock be grazed on forage that haven’t been treated for three days before moving to a site where manure is collected, or sensitive crops are grown;
  • Requiring pasture applicators to notify the property owners/operators of the compost prohibition, and for the applicator to keep a record of this notification for two years;
  • Updating compost pictogram on pesticide labels showing growers/operators how to manage treated materials; and,
  • Requiring registrants to participate in a stewardship program and provide educational outreach for applicators, growers, land managers/operators, and others affected by herbicide residues in compost.

EPA will also continue to work with stakeholders to develop additional educational resources for land managers and others affected by herbicide residues in compost.

The IDs finalize enforceable mitigation measures to address spray drift risks of concern, such as a maximum wind speed for applications, medium or coarse droplets, and mandatory spray release heights for ground and aerial applications.

Additional information on the pyridine and pyrimidine herbicides and interim decisions are available on EPA’s website.

EPA Provides an Update on Pesticide Applicator Certification Plan Approvals

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 21, 2021. Click here for more information.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing an update on efforts to finalize review of submitted state, territory, tribal and federal agency certification programs for applicators of restricted use pesticides (RUPs). Requiring specific training to be applied, RUPs are not available for purchase or use by the general public. The 2017 Certification of Pesticide Applicators final rule had set stronger standards for people who apply RUPs and required that states, territories, tribes and federal agencies with existing certification plans submit proposed modifications by March 4, 2020 to comply with the updated federal standards. As specified in the rule, existing certification plans remain in effect until EPA completes its reviews and approves the proposed plan modifications, or until those plans otherwise expire on March 4, 2022, whichever is earlier.

In cooperation with certification program administrators, EPA has completed 28 reviews of the 63 submitted plans from states, territories, and tribes. EPA acknowledges the challenges certification program administrators face to bring the existing plans into compliance within the timeframes specified in the 2017 rule. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency and the need for careful review of program-specific issues and questions, EPA is in the process of developing a rule that would extend the date by which plans must be approved and ensure existing plans can remain in place during this time-limited extension. Prior to October 1, 2021, EPA had been unable to take any action to revise the certification rule due to a prohibition of such in the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2018 (PRIA 4). Further, litigation over attempted delays to the effective date of the January 4, 2017 final rule led some certifying authorities to postpone work on revising their certification plans

The anticipated extension would allow RUP applicators to continue to obtain the training and certifications they need to use RUPs under the existing certification plans, preventing the economic and public health consequences of widespread disruption of RUP use.

EPA will keep close contact with states, territories, tribes and other federal agencies who have a role in implementing the certification programs to provide support and guidance in meeting the regulatory deadline. EPA will also communicate any changes as soon as more information is available.