An article appearing in the April 5, 2017 edition of “InsideEPA.com” details severe funding cuts expected to be proposed in the Trump Administration FY 2018 budget request for EPA that promise to impact a number of Agency programs, including the Office of Pesticide Programs. According to the article, the proposed funding reductions are set forth in a March 21, 2017 budget memo prepared by David Bloom, EPA’s Chief Financial Officer. The article reports that the President will propose a $5.7 million and 31.7 FTE (full-time equivalent) decrease from OPP FY 2016 enacted funding levels of $6.1 million and 324.8 FTEs for protecting human health from pesticide risk. In addition, the article states that the President will propose a reduction of $4 million and 18 FTEs from the $4.6 million in FY 2016 funding and 207.9 FTEs for protecting the environment from pesticides. The reduced OPP funding levels set forth in the memo are accompanied by a statement explaining that the President’s budget will include language to allow the pesticide program to use fees on a broader range of activities in the program thus preventing a reduction or slowing in pesticide reviews. The memo further states, “The program has nearly $30 million of unspent fee carryover that can help support core work.” Elsewhere the memo states, “Sizeable unobligated balances in EPA’s FIFRA fee accounts are to be used to offset FY 2018 funding levels. Additionally, any potential additional fee collections from the upcoming reauthorization of PRIA could help offset reductions to the program.”
As reported previously, current FIFRA language states that in order to release funds collected by program participants, Congress must appropriate corresponding funds to support the program. Funds are then released on a dollar-for-dollar accounting basis. Fees that do not have a matching appropriation cannot be spent and are held by the Agency. As a result of dwindling appropriations and hiring freezes over the years, EPA has amassed significant funds that cannot be expended on the activities for which they were intended. CPDA is now working in an effort to secure appropriations committee report language affirming that these “frozen” funds should be released and used in support of the Agency’s pesticide product review activities. In addition, CPDA is focusing its efforts in seeking FY 2018 OPP appropriations levels that will ensure EPA is equipped with the resources necessary to conduct product reviews under PRIA in accordance with the statutory time frames established by law. CPDA will keep its membership apprized of further developments on this issue as they occur.