On July 20, 2017, the Trump Administration released its 2017 Unified Regulatory Agenda. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Agency Rule List included several pesticide rulemakings in the proposed rule stage, as well as the Certification of Pesticide Applicators rulemaking that is in the final rule stage. The five items in the proposed rule stage are:

  1. RIN 2015-AA00: Revision of Procedural Rules for Hearings on Cancellations, Suspensions, Changes in Classifications, and Denials of Pesticide Registrations. The agenda states that this proposed rulemaking is a “revision of the Rules of Practice governing the conduct of licensing adjudications under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).” The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for January 2018.
  2. RIN 2070-AK00: Pesticides; Technical Amendments to Data Requirements. The agenda states that to satisfy one of the commitments in a settlement agreement reached with the American Chemistry Council (Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0110-0139), EPA is proposing a correction pertaining to the 200 parts per billion (ppb) level described in 40 C.F.R. Section 158.2230(d) that was originally used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with respect to the “concentration of residues in or on food for tiering of data requirements for indirect food use biocides.” Through this rulemaking, the agenda states that EPA intends to “clarify that the 200 ppb level is based on total estimated daily dietary intake for an individual and not on the amount of residue present on a single food.” The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for July 2017.
  3. RIN 2070-AK06: Pesticides; Procedural Rule Amendment; Requirement for Certain Pesticide Actions to Publish Notices in the Federal Register. In the agenda, EPA states that as the as the Federal Register is “no longer the most cost effective or efficient way for providing notice or sharing information with the public,” it is considering changing the way that it provides notice on or shares information with the public -- specifically, by no longer publishing certain information in the Federal Register, but instead providing the same information on a consolidated website which the agenda states “will be more accessible to the public and other interested parties, as well as a more cost effective and efficient mechanism for providing timely updates.” The agenda lists the following kinds of notification it is considering making this change regarding: (1) reregistration of a pesticide product with a new active ingredient or new use; (2) announcing approvals of specific, quarantine and public health exemptions; and (3) Summaries of certain state registrations. For Registration Review, the agenda state that EPA “intends to announce availability of the documents that are currently announced in the Federal Register on the EPA's Registration Review Website.” For notices of availability announced in the Federal Register, the agenda states that “EPA intends to direct the public to a case-specific docket on Regulations.gov to view pertinent registration review documents and provide comment.” The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for April 2018.
  4. RIN 2070-AK40: Extension of Compliance Date(s); Agricultural Worker Protection Standard. As reported in our memoranda summarizing the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) final rule, EPA Publishes Worker Protection Standard Final Rule, the WPS final rule was issued on November 2, 2015, but has not yet been made effective. More information on the delay of its effective date is available in our blog item EPA to Delay Agricultural WPS Indefinitely; Cites Issues with Guidance and Training. This proposed rulemaking will adjust the compliance date. The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for July 2017 and the issuance of the final rule is scheduled for November 2017.
  5. RIN 2080-AA13: Updates to 40 C.F.R. § 26 Subpart K to reflect recent changes to 40 C.F.R. Subpart A (The Common Rule). As reported in our blog item Federal Agencies Announce Revision to Modernize Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, on January 19, 2017, EPA, together with a host of other federal agencies, released a final rule to modernize, strengthen, and make more effective the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects that was originally promulgated as a Common Rule in 1991, and is now codified in 40 C.F.R. § 26, Subpart A. These revisions, scheduled to become effective on January 19, 2018, will create a conflict within some of the EPA-specific subparts, in particular, Subpart K of 40 C.F.R. 26 (Basic Ethical Requirements for Third-Party Human Research for Pesticides Involving Intention Exposure of Non-Pregnant, Non-Nursing Adults) which regulates third party pesticide research. The agenda states that this proposed rulemaking is “intended to resolve proposed rulemaking discrepancies created by the recent revision to Subpart A, and will not alter the fundamental protections for human subjects, including vulnerable populations.” The issuance of the proposed rule is scheduled for January 2018.

The two items in the final rule stage are:

  1. RIN 2070-AJ20: Pesticides; Certification of Pesticide Applicators. As reported in our memoranda summarizing the Certification of Pesticide Applicators’ final rule, Final EPA Rule Requires Stronger Standards for Applying Riskiest Pesticides, the final rule was issued on January 4, 2017. More information on the delay of its effective date is available in our blog item EPA Delays Effective Date of Certification of Pesticide Applicators Final Rule. On June 2, 2017, a Federal Register publication was issued that delayed the effective date until May 22, 2018.
  2. RIN 2070-AK13: Procedural Rule to Remove Obsolete Information. The agenda states that this final rule will remove information from EPA’s existing pesticide regulations that is now out of date or obsolete and will “provide clearer and more reliable information to those seeking to register a pesticide product.” The agenda further states that as rulemaking is intended to be a non-substantive, procedural rulemaking “since the EPA does not intend to make any substantive changes to the existing requirements,” EPA is considering issuing this as a final rule and not going through the notice and comment period. The issuance of the final rule is scheduled for January 2018.

Commentary

Much of the work noted emphasizes potential procedural efficiencies and clarifications. The potential move to more announcements on the websites and away from the Federal Register is, at least in part, likely intended as a cost-saving measure. It is also a change that will be closely watched. For example, in recent years, EPA has seen registrations challenged based on assertions of an alleged lack of appropriate notice concerning the receipt or processing of registration applications, and these past challenges will likely influence any new procedures that EPA may adopt.

Of more interest is the new Administration’s call for suggestions of what rules or policies should be changed as part of a broader push for economic growth and less regulatory costs, which may result in more substantive regulatory changes and some likely controversial decisions about what rules or programs will be modified or eliminated -- but that exercise is not part of this announcement. The delay in the compliance date for the WPS regulation is more substantive, but changes that may be proposed have not yet been announced.