The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plans for finalizing and implementing its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for applications of pesticides over water are “overly optimistic” and could result in a number of adverse consequences, one of the agency’s critics says.

According to reports, EPA now hopes to complete its NPDES permit for applications of pesticides over water by December. EPA and most of the states would then begin implementing and enforcing the permit program starting next April.

Testifying at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, the president of CropLife America said not only do many believe EPA and the states won’t meet that schedule, but they worry that the permitting system will impose hardships on small businesses and negate many of the public health achievements of recent years.

“We are very skeptical about this overly optimistic timetable,” said Jay Vroom, CropLife America president. “Even if things go smoothly, for the federal government and individual states to get all this work done well before April – and then for the regulated community to have time to get up to speed on compliance – seems nearly impossible to achieve.”

Vroom, whose members produce and sell most of the crop protection and biotechnology products used in the U.S., said EPA might not be up against the April 2011 court-imposed deadline if it had been willing to fight harder to defend its previous position that the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) was the governing document for pesticide use.