Administrator Wheeler Promotes Regulatory Relief, Transparency at EPA

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Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of EPA, was an honored keynote speaker at the AmericanHort Impact Washington Summit. Wheeler did not disappoint. He gave an information-packed presentation that highlighted recent EPA accomplishments relevant to the environmental horticulture industry.

Wheeler spoke of the decision to rescind the 2015 version of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation. Days prior to the Impact Washington event, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers jointly repealed a rule that expanded the WOTUS definition under the Clean Water Act. All judgements will return to the framework existing prior to 2015, re-codifying the longstanding regulatory language.

Wheeler explained that the move effectively ends the need for two separate Clean Water Act regulations and ultimately eases regulatory burdens, inconsistencies, and confusion. The pre-2015 rules are currently in place in over half of the states. Public comments were accepted on this rule until August 13, 2018.

The safety of glyphosate was another key point in Wheeler’s message. EPA’s recently reaffirmed the science behind their decision that glyphosate is not likely to be a carcinogen and has no risk to public health. Wheeler sharply criticized California’s Proposition 65 warnings that list glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen” as being false and misleading to the public.

Earlier this year, EPA released a formal statement calling for the end of the false labeling of glyphosate, reiterating that such claims do not meet FIFRA requirements. AmericanHort supports this position and hosted an educational webinar on glyphosate featuring researchers and EPA officials earlier this year.

Wheeler also spoke to EPA’s ongoing review of neonicotinoids and pollinator health, both of which are important issues currently under review by EPA and top of mind in environmental horticulture. The thread that ran through Wheeler’s remarks was EPA’s keen focus on transparency. According to Wheeler, the agency has embraced quality management principles and is making a concerted effort to be more transparent in their processes and decisions.

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