public policy

Preemption

Preemption

 

The Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) is the statute that authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the sale and use of pesticides and designate this authority exclusively to U.S. states.  In 1991, in Wisconsin Pub. Intervenor v. Mortier, 501 U.S. 597 (1991), the Supreme Court held that FIFRA does not preempt local governmental regulation of pesticide use relying on the interpretation that FIFRA does not expressly prohibit local regulations, despite the presumption that it did.

Until 1991, it was believed that only the federal government and state government had the authority to regulate the sale and use of pesticides under the notion of preemption.  Preemption is derived from our forefathers in the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2)  and gives federal laws exclusive authority over state laws that conflict, or in this instance state laws exclusive authority over locality and municipal ordinances that conflict with state laws.

Following the 1991 Supreme Court decision the vast majority of states quickly amended their state pesticide statutes to vest exclusive pesticide sale and use authority with the state.  To date  44 of the 50 states have adopted some form of pesticide preemption.

NPMA supports state rights and the true intent of FIFRA to vest the sale and use of pesticides with states, not their political subdivisions (localities/municipalities).  To best protect American businesses, families and homes it is paramount to have a uniform set of regulations.  Hundreds of contradictory and overlapping regulations differing from locality to locality could lead to situations were certain vital tools could be used to protect one community but not the other leading to an outbreak resulting in harm to both communities—jeopardizing public health. The lack of uniformity reduces business climate certainty and increases consumer costs, without a commensurate improvement in human health or the environment.

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