[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 103 (Friday, May 29, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 30644-30646]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-12989]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

40 CFR Chapter I

[EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0818; FRL-9927-36]


Proposal To Mitigate Exposure to Bees From Acutely Toxic 
Pesticide Products; Notice of Availability

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: EPA is seeking comment on a proposal to adopt mandatory 
pesticide label restrictions to protect managed bees under contract 
pollination services from foliar application of pesticides that are 
acutely toxic to bees on a contact exposure basis. These label 
restrictions would prohibit applications of pesticide products, which 
are acutely toxic to bees, during bloom when bees are known to be 
present under contract. EPA is also seeking comment on a proposal to 
rely on efforts made by states and tribes to reduce pesticide

[[Page 30645]]

exposures through development of locally-based measures, specifically 
through managed pollinator protection plans. These plans would include 
local and customizable mitigation measures to address certain scenarios 
that can result in exposure to pollinators. EPA intends to monitor the 
success of these plans in deciding whether further label restrictions 
are warranted.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before June 29, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by docket identification 
(ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0818, by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Do not submit 
electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business 
Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted 
by statute.
     Mail: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket 
Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 
20460-0001.
     Hand Delivery: To make special arrangements for hand 
delivery or delivery of boxed information, please follow the 
instructions at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/contacts.html.
    Additional instructions on commenting or visiting the docket, along 
with more information about dockets generally, is available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Michael Goodis, Pesticide Re-evaluation Division (7508P), Office of 
Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania 
Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (703) 308-8157; 
email address: goodis.michael@epa.gov, or
Marietta Echeverria, Registration Division (7505P), Office of Pesticide 
Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., 
Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (703) 305-8578; email 
address: echeverria.marietta@epa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. General Information

A. Does this action apply to me?

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you produce an 
agricultural crop that is attractive to pollinators, if you are a 
beekeeper, or if you manufacture pesticides. In addition, state and 
tribal governments may be potentially affected by this action. The 
following list of North American Industrial Classification System 
(NAICS) codes is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a 
guide to help readers determine whether this document applies to them. 
Potentially affected entities may include:

 Pesticide and Other Agricultural Chemical Manufacturing (NAICS 
code 325320), e.g., Insecticide and Herbicide Manufacturers
 Apiculture (NAICS code 112910)
 Crop Production (NAICS code 111)
 Regulation of Agricultural Marketing and Commodities (NAICS 
code 926140), e.g., Pest control programs, agriculture, government

B. What should I consider as I prepare my comments for EPA?

    1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit this information to EPA through 
regulations.gov or email. Clearly mark the part or all of the 
information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI information in a disk or 
CD-ROM that you mail to EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD-ROM as 
CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD-ROM the 
specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one 
complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as 
CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information 
claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. 
Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with 
procedures set forth in 40 CFR part 2.
    2. Tips for preparing your comments. When preparing and submitting 
your comments, see the commenting tips at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/comments.html.

C. How can I get copies of this document and other related information?

    A copy of EPA's Proposal to Mitigate Exposure to Bees from Acutely 
Toxic Pesticide Products is available in the docket under docket 
identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2014-0818.

II. What action is the agency taking?

    EPA is proposing mandatory pesticide label restrictions to protect 
contracted managed bees, e.g., honey bee colonies that are under 
contract to provide pollination services, from foliar applications of 
pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees on a contact exposure basis, 
i.e., those pesticides with an acutely lethal dose to 50% of the bees 
tested of less than 11 micrograms per bee, based on acute contact 
toxicity testing. Contracted pollination services result in a 
heightened risk potential where a large number of honey bee colonies 
are intentionally placed at a use site, and application of a toxic 
pesticide in this scenario is nearly certain to result in direct 
exposure to pollinators. Although the likely outcomes are counter-
productive for both the beekeeper (loss of honey bee stock) and the 
grower (diminished pollination services), many beekeepers and growers 
seem not to have found ways to avoid such outcomes. Consequently, EPA 
believes that strong regulatory measures should be in place for the 
contracted service scenario to mitigate these potential problems. 
Therefore, EPA proposes to prohibit the foliar application of acutely 
toxic products during bloom for sites with bees on-site under contract, 
unless the application is made in accordance with a government-declared 
public health response. There would be no other exceptions to the bloom 
prohibition in the contracted-services scenario. Current neonicotinoid 
product labels include a 48-hr notification exception to the bloom 
prohibition. However, as part of this mitigation proposal, the 48-hr 
notification exception for crops under contracted pollination services 
during bloom for all neonicotinoid product labels would be removed. 
These restrictions are expected to reduce the likelihood of acute 
exposure and mortality to managed bees under contract.
    EPA believes that managed bees not under contracted services (and 
other unmanaged bees) may also be exposed to acutely toxic pesticides 
when they are within forage range of the application site. While 
pesticide exposure under this scenario is possible, it is less certain 
than in situations where a pesticide is applied to a site when large 
numbers of managed bees have intentionally been positioned at the site 
for the purposes of providing pollination services. EPA believes that 
the lower likelihood of exposure for large numbers of managed bees in 
this scenario may warrant a more flexible approach toward mitigation 
such as that afforded by state or tribal Managed Pollinator Protection 
Plans (MP3s). Accordingly, EPA intends to encourage states and tribes 
to develop MP3s that are effective in reducing the likelihood of bees 
being present in the treatment area at the time a pesticide application 
is to be made. EPA would monitor success of these MP3s in mitigating 
risk to bees from acutely toxic pesticides on an ongoing basis and 
determine whether additional EPA action is warranted. Therefore, for 
managed bees not under contract pollination services, EPA is not 
proposing to require any new language

[[Page 30646]]

for pesticide labels. This does not alter EPA's previous requirement 
for more specific restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides for which 
EPA required language to address risks to bees not under contract for 
pollination services.
    EPA is seeking comment on both the approach of label restrictions 
on products used for bees under contract for pollinator services, and 
for the approach to rely on state and tribal pollinator protection 
plans to bees that are not under contract for pollination services.
    These actions are consistent with the Presidential directive issued 
in June 2014 to reduce the effect of factors that have been associated 
with pollinator declines in general as well as the mandate to engage 
state and tribal partners in the development of pollinator protection 
plans. While the proposed mitigation focuses on managed bees, EPA 
believes that in protecting managed bees, these measures will also 
protect native solitary and social bees that are in and around 
treatment areas. The proposed mitigation is based on an acute toxicity 
threshold and is not intended to supersede more restrictive product-
specific use prohibitions. EPA will continue to conduct chemical-
specific risk assessments for bees and will consider additional 
product-specific mitigation as needed in the Office of Pesticide 
Program's (OPP) registration and registration review programs.

III. Areas of Feedback

    EPA is seeking comments on the proposed approach to mitigate 
exposure to bees from acutely toxic pesticide products under contract 
and non-contract pollination scenarios. In addition, EPA is 
specifically seeking comment on several issues described in the policy 
paper.

A. Label Language for Applications to Sites With Bees Present Under 
Contracted Services

    EPA is proposing to prohibit the foliar application of acutely 
toxic products during bloom for sites with bees on-site under contract, 
unless the application is made in accordance with a government-declared 
public health response. EPA encourages growers and beekeepers to 
include provisions in pollination service contracts that take into 
account the increased likelihood of bee colony exposure and ensure that 
colonies will be protected and pollination services secured. If EPA 
receives evidence during the public comment period and/or through 
outreach at stakeholder meetings that such contract provisions are 
common or that there are other effective and mutually agreed upon 
stakeholder (i.e., beekeeper-to-grower) practices indicating that 
application of acutely toxic pesticides is not of risk concern for bees 
under contract, then EPA will consider this evidence in determining 
whether this scenario needs the mitigation indicated in the proposed 
language. Please comment on any factors that may allow EPA to 
reconsider the mitigation for this scenario, for example, if risks to 
bees are addressed through existing, and widely used, contract 
language.

B. State and Tribal Managed Pollinator Protection Plans

    For sites not under contracted services, EPA believes that 
pollinator protection plans serve as examples of effective 
collaboration between stakeholders at the local level that can lead to 
reduced pesticide exposure and protection of managed bees while 
maintaining the flexibility needed by growers to protect crops. Based 
on feedback provided to EPA by state lead agencies that have developed 
such plans, beekeeper-to-grower communication has been enhanced and 
fewer bee kill incidents have been reported as a result of the plans. 
Across these diverse plans, the common element has been effective 
stakeholder engagement, and anecdotal reports from the stakeholder 
groups suggest that the plans are effective at increasing communication 
and cooperation. The development of pollinator protection plans is a 
voluntary way for states and tribes to address acute pesticide exposure 
to pollinators. EPA believes that a key factor for states and tribes to 
determine the effectiveness of managed pollinator protection plans will 
be to include mechanisms to measure the effectiveness and a process to 
periodically review and modify each plan. Please comment on EPA's 
proposal to address risk to non-contract bees through reliance on state 
and tribal plans. Also, given the uncertainties with incident data, 
what kind of measures should be used to demonstrate that state and 
tribal pollinator protection plans are effective?

C. Uncertainties

    EPA recognizes that there are a number of uncertainties that remain 
regarding chemicals and exposure scenarios that may not fall within the 
domain of the proposal. EPA is also interested in receiving feedback on 
these uncertainties, which are described in the proposal.

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 136a.

    Dated: May 19, 2015.
Jack E. Housenger,
Director, Office of Pesticide Programs.
[FR Doc. 2015-12989 Filed 5-28-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6560-50-P