Applications sought for methyl bromide exemption

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting applications for the critical use exemption from the phaseout of methyl bromide for 2013, according to a July 15 notice published in the Federal Register. Critical use exemptions are good for one year and do not renew automatically.

According to the E.P.A., applications may be submitted either by a consortium representing multiple users who have similar circumstances or by individual users who anticipate needing methyl bromide in 2013 and have evaluated alternatives and as a result believe they have no technically and economically feasible alternatives. The deadline to submit applications is Sept. 13.

U.S. consumption of methyl bromide has declined significantly in the United States during the past 20 years. In 1991, the baseline year, U.S. consumption was approximately 25,000 tonnes. In 2010, the amount authorized for critical uses declined to approximately 3,000 tonnes, and for 2012, the U.S. nominated only about 1,200 tonnes.

“This transition from methyl bromide — formerly one of the most commonly used pesticides in the U.S. — to ozone-safe alternatives has been a remarkable achievement for U.S. agriculture,” the E.P.A. said.

The critical use exemption program has provided U.S. manufacturers and growers six additional years beyond the original Jan. 1, 2005, phaseout date. The parties already have approved a U.S. critical use amount for 2011, and the U.S. submitted a nomination for 2012. The E.P.A. said it expects the U.S. will submit a nomination for 2013 based on applications received in response to the noticed published in the July 15 Federal Register.

In addition to the United States, four other countries have been approved for critical use exemptions in 2010: Australia, Canada, Israel and Japan. Israel has announced that 2011 will its last year of critical use exemptions while Japan has indicated 2013 will be its last year. Developing countries, meanwhile, are set to phaseout methyl bromide under the Montreal Protocol in 2015, though there is a provision that will allow for critical use exemptions.

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