Pursuant to the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2012 (PRIA 3; P.L. 112-177), Congress authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect two categories of fees to support the agency's pesticide regulatory program and related activities. EPA's authority to collect one of these fees—pesticide maintenance fees—expires at the end of FY2017. The authority to collect the other fees—pesticide registration service fees—begins to phase out at the end of FY2017. The Pesticide Registration Enhancement Act of 2017 (H.R. 1029, H.Rept. 115-49), passed by the House on March 20, 2017, would reauthorize the collection of both fees and amend how EPA obligates monies derived from fee collections. The House-passed bill was received in the Senate on March 21, 2017, and referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
EPA assesses fees on pesticide registrants (i.e., manufacturers and distributors) for pesticide registrations and pesticide-related applications. These fees, in conjunction with discretionary appropriations, support EPA's pesticide regulatory activities as authorized by two statutes—the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA; 7 U.S.C. §136 et seq.) and Section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA; 21 U.S.C. §346a). FIFRA requires EPA to (1) evaluate proposed uses of pesticides and register (i.e., license) pesticide products that meet certain statutory criteria and (2) periodically reevaluate existing pesticide registrations (i.e., registration review). For pesticides used in food production, FIFRA requires EPA to establish maximum limits ("tolerances") for pesticide residues in accordance with FFDCA Section 408.
Since 1954, Congress has authorized the collection of various fees to partially defray certain costs associated with federal pesticide program activities. Annual appropriations generally fund the remainder of the expenditures. The Pesticide Registration Improvement Act of 2003 (PRIA 1; P.L. 108-199, Division G, Title V) established the current pesticide fee framework in 2004. The Pesticide Registration Improvement Renewal Act (PRIA 2; P.L. 110-94) and PRIA 3 reauthorized fee collections and further amended the framework. These past reauthorizations have received widespread support in Congress and among stakeholders. For more information on PRIA 1, PRIA 2, and PRIA 3, see CRS In Focus IF10424, The Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2012 (PRIA 3, P.L. 112-177): Authorization to Collect Fees, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed].
House-passed H.R. 1029 would reauthorize the collection of pesticide maintenance fees through September 30, 2023. Under current law, the authority to collect pesticide maintenance fees expires September 30, 2017.
The bill would amend FIFRA Section 4 (7 U.S.C. §136a-1) to increase annual maximum maintenance fees per registrant, generally based on the number of registrations held by the registrant. The bill would also increase the maximum amount EPA could collect in total maintenance fees from $27.8 million per fiscal year to an average amount of $31.0 million per fiscal year for each of FY2017 through FY2023. "Small business" waivers and fee reductions and exemptions for certain public health pesticides would be retained.
Maintenance fees collected by EPA would continue to be deposited as receipts in the "Reregistration and Expedited Processing Fund" established in the U.S. Treasury by FIFRA Section 4. These fees, under H.R. 1029, would be provided to EPA as mandatory appropriations to offset costs associated with (1) pesticide registration review, (2) tracking and implementing registration review decisions, and (3) making enhancements to information systems capabilities to track registration decisions. Additionally, the bill would direct EPA to set aside not more than $500,000 of the Registration and Expedited Processing Fund for each of two new purposes—(1) to prescribe standards for demonstrating the effectiveness of pesticides intended to address bed bugs, pests that feed on humans and pets, and fire ants and (2) to enhance the good laboratory practices standards compliance monitoring program.
House-passed H.R. 1029 would reauthorize the collection of pesticide registration service fees under FIFRA Section 33 (7 U.S.C. §136w-8) through September 30, 2025 (with the last two years having reduced rates). Under current law, the authority to collect registration service fees begins to phase out at the end of FY2017, with EPA having authority to collect fees at reduced levels through FY2019—reduced by 40% during FY2018 and 70% during FY2019. After FY2019, the authority to collect registration service fees expires.
The bill would revise the registration service fee amounts that EPA would be authorized to assess depending on the action the applicant requested. Under PRIA 3, Congress had set fees for 189 specific actions; House-passed H.R. 1029 would set fees for 212 actions. The House-passed bill would also amend certain time frames for EPA to complete review of a requested action and retain certain fee reductions and waivers for eligible entities (e.g., minor use pesticide manufacturers, small businesses, and federal and state agencies).
Pesticide registration service fees collected by EPA would continue to be deposited as receipts in the "Pesticide Registration Fund" established in the U.S. Treasury by FIFRA Section 33 and would be made available to EPA through subsequent appropriations acts. EPA would continue to be authorized to use fee receipts without fiscal year limitation for:
House-passed H.R. 1029 would not amend FIFRA Section 33(d)(2), which prohibits EPA's collection of registration service fees if annual appropriations for specified functions of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs—excluding any fees appropriated—is less than the corresponding FY2012 appropriation ($128.3 million). For FY2013 through FY2017, appropriations acts provided less than that required by current law (i.e., FY2012 level) but still authorized the assessment of registration service fees by waiving the FIFRA Section 33(d)(2) condition. Ultimately, EPA capacity to evaluate pesticide registrations depends on resources and current scientific understanding.