FIFRA: Jobs-Creating Businesses Could Use Protection from EPA

Lawyer, blogger and talk show host Hugh Hewitt’s latest Examiner column warns against the Environmental Protection Agency’s expanded use and abuse of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), now being turned into an all-purpose weapon against business and advertising. “Federal control costs jobs” cites the EPA’s recent fines totaling $500,000 against four manufacturers, including The North Face outdoor-gear maker, for claiming their products provided “antimicrobial protection.”

“While The North Face, Califone and Saniguard products all incorporated EPA-registered silver-based antimicrobial compounds to protect them against deterioration,” the EPA’s press release said, “they were never tested or registered to protect consumers against bacteria, fungus, mold and/or mildew.”

And there you have the nanny state in all its fury. No testing! No registration! No proof of a marketing claim of “antimicrobial protection.”

Whatever the merits of the manufacturers’ claims, it’s difficult to see a significant threat to public health or safety in the advertising that brought down the wrath of the EPA on these companies.

It’s easy, on the other hand, to see the cost of the fines, and the almost certain additional significant costs for attorneys and other staff who had to deal with the problem. It’s easy to imagine the cost of new marketing materials and of increased regulatory compliance.

Lost jobs, for one.

Hewitt has more detail at his blog, HughHewitt.com, a post, “A Very Disturbing, Job-Killing Trend.”

At his Examiner column, he concludes: “If Congress is serious about helping the economy create jobs, it can start by summoning EPA brass to a hearing and asking for a detailed rationale for its draconian fines and for its reading of the statute.”

If Congress is serious…

Unfortunately, it’s easier to imagine a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committe — the same group of lawmakers that brought us the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act — being convened to berate business owners for failing to live up to the EPA’s rapidly changing standards of consumer protection.

In the meantime, the EPA continues to cement its standing as the most powerful regulatory agency in human history.

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