Third Quarter 2022 Regulatory Comment Review
As the third quarter drew to a close, there there was no slowdown in responding to regulatory proposals. And this quarter you will see a couple of comment letters responding to state-level issues. Below is a summary of the regulatory dockets AZFB responded to during the third quarter of 2022.
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service – Request for Information on Access to Fertilizer: Competition and Supply Chain Concerns – AZFB’s comments supported those prepared by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), which responded to several questions from USDA addressing fertilizer trends, impacts of transportation, foreign supply of fertilizer and global disruption, as well as other ways USDA can support farmers’ ability to adapt to variability in fertilizer costs.
Arizona Department of Water Resources – Proposed Surface Water Protection Rules – AZFB comments addressed our concerns regarding ADEQ’s timeline for reviewing stakeholder input, evaluation of the WOTUS Protected Water List based on the pre-2015 regulatory regime, and the addition of waters to the proposed WOTUS list. AZFB recommended that ADEQ not move forward with its proposed WOTUS list and modify its process to reissue a revised draft of the proposed rule.
Environmental Protection Agency – Proposed Interim Decision for Several Pesticides (Diuron) –AZBF’s comments highlighted the importance of diuron as an herbicide for several Arizona crops and as a defoliant in cotton. Our comments noted concerns with EPA’s risk modeling for diuron and the need for the agency to include new data from the Diuron Task Force that would support the continued registration of the product. EPA’s current proposal would terminate nearly all uses of diuron on food and feed crops and non-food agriculture sites, as well as revoke all food tolerances (except for that pertaining to uses as a cotton harvest aid).
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Designation of Experimental Populations – AZFB’s comments noted our opposition to the FWS’s proposal to delete references to a species’ “historical range,” which would thereby allow for the introduction of experimental populations into habitat outside of their historical range. We also noted our opposition to FWS’s assessment that this proposed rulemaking would not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities.
Bureau of Reclamation – Request for Input on Development of Post-2026 Colorado River Operational Strategies for Lake Powell and Lake Mead under Historically Low Reservoir Conditions – AZFB’s comments urged BOR to consider the following as it moves forward in developing its Post -2026 Colorado Operational strategies. (1) In the near-term, BOR should use the funds allocated through the Inflation Reduction Act to support these efforts to create the storage necessary to avoid a crash on the river. (2) Ensure all stakeholders have a seat at the table, including agriculture. Any decisions about use of the river must recognize the economic significance of agriculture dependent on Colorado River water – it extends beyond the scope of farms and rural communities to include safeguarding our domestic food security. (3) In the upcoming NEPA process BOR should include further encouraging conservation and efficiency measures by all users, augmenting water supplies where feasible, and evaluating increased storage capacity to capture seasonal precipitation in sub-watersheds likely to be impacted by the reverberating impacts of less water in the Colorado River system. Additionally, we recommended the NEPA process needs to include specific analysis to streamline upper watershed projects, intended to improve forest and rangeland health, across multiple federal agencies.
Environmental Protection Agency – Proposed Interim Decisions for Several Pesticides (Tebuconazole) – AZFB’s comments noted the importance of tebuconazole as a fungicide in numerous Arizona crops and highlighted our concerns regarding EPA’s proposal which would limit the usage of tebuconazole under certain conditions resulting in increased costs and potential yield losses.
Bureau of Land Management – Hopper Renewable Energy Project, IP Land Holdings, Variance Application – AZFB’s comments urge BLM to disapprove a variance application that would allow for the siting of a solar installation on two active grazing allotments in Graham County. The proposed solar project would take valuable agricultural land out of production and creates a negative precedent for future solar development on public lands with grazing allotment or other agricultural uses.
Environmental Protection Agency – Draft Endangered Species Act Biological Evaluation for Sulfoxaflor – AZFB’s comments highlighted the importance of sulfoxaflor to several crops grown in Arizona and stated our concerns with the spray drift distances used in EPA evaluation. The docket also allowed commenters to respond to Corteva’s proposed label amendments for their products which contain sulfoxaflor. Our comments recommend that any label restrictions related to endangered species or critical habitats apply only to those defined areas of concern.
Environmental Protection Agency – Petition to Revoke Tolerances and Cancel Registrations for Certain Organophosphate Uses – AZFB’s comments urged EPA reject the petition to revoke organophosphate tolerances and cancel registrations. Our comments further noted the EPA’s obligation to adhere to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) which outlines the registration review process and requires the agency to balance these risks and benefits in the pesticide decision-making process by considering the economic, social and environmental costs and benefits of the use of any pesticide.
Arizona Department of Water Resources – Hualapai INA Designation – AZFB’s comments explained how basin conditions do not warrant an irrigation non-expansion area (INA) designation. AZFB also posed several questions relating to the data and modeling used by ADWR in it most recent assessment of the Hualapai basin.