Last week, in a letter to Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the EPA will withdraw its proposed revision to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) rule. The revised rule had been under review by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
In his letter, Wheeler writes, “The Agency has been developing proposals concerning the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) rule, including changes to the designated representative and minimum age provisions, and application exclusion zone (AEZ) provisions. The Agency has also been developing changes to the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule. Although the subject matter associated with these potential changes has been subject to wide ranging public stakeholder meetings and public comments, EPA will withdraw its OMB submission to propose revisions to these rules and will not make any changes to the designated representative and minimum age provisions.”
Previously, the Senate Democrats’ opposition to the proposed revisions to the WPS rule had been a significant obstacle to reauthorize PRIA in Congress. A provision to codify the Obama-era WPS had been a major part of Sen. Tom Udall’s (D-NM) amendment to PRIA IV, which passed the Senate by unanimous consent in June of 2018. EPA’s announcement that it will leave the Obama-era WPS in place now provides a simpler path for PRIA to pass as a potential stand-alone bill, as opposed to PRIA’s consideration as part of an appropriations package to end the partial government shutdown.
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