EPA Extends Deadline for the Expiration of Existing Pesticide Applicator Certification Plans to Nov. 4, 2022

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently extended the March 4, 2022 deadline for the expiration of existing federal, state, territory, and tribal certification plans for Certified Pesticide Applicators (CPAs). The EPA extended that expiration deadline, which had been set under an EPA rule issued in 2017, primarily in response to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The comment period on the EPA’s interim final rule extending the deadline closed Jan. 19, 2022, and the rule is set to take effect on Feb. 18, 2022.

The 2017 rule’s purpose was to update the certification for CPAs applying Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs). RUPs are pesticides that are not available for purchase or use by the general public because they present a higher risk of adverse effects to the environment or applicators/bystanders if improperly used or applied. A link to the list of RUPs as updated in October 2021 can be found here. The EPA’s 2017 rule included components such as enhanced competency and exam standards; new standards for noncertified applicators working under the direct supervision of a CPA; new intervals and criteria for recertification; a new minimum age for CPAs; and updated requirements for approval and maintenance of certification plans. The 2017 rule required states, territories, tribes, and federal agencies to update their plans for certifying CPAs to meet its standards. It set a deadline of March 4, 2020 to submit proposed plan modifications to the EPA and a deadline of March 4, 2022 for the expiration of existing plans unless the revised plans had been approved by the EPA.

The COVID-19 pandemic hampered the EPA’s ability to review and approve the modified plans submitted by certifying authorities. Although the EPA completed a preliminary review of all 68 proposed plan modifications submitted in response to the 2017 rule, as of late 2021 it had only completed a final review of 45 of those plans following the exchange of comments with certifying authorities. To address the delay, the EPA published the new interim final rule extending the expiration deadline for existing certification plans to Nov. 4, 2022.

This extension impacts certifying authorities at the state and federal levels and allows these authorities additional time to address the EPA’s comments to their proposed plans without a lapse in existing plans. Particularly in a tight job market, a lapse in existing plans could have negatively impacted local economies and hindered the ability of CPAs and their employers to continue to conduct business.

For more information, please contact a member of Taft’s Environmental practice group.

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