Economic Research Service's Analyses of Proposed EPA Actions

RCED-89-75BR: Published: Mar 14, 1989. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Economic Research Service's (ERS) activities during fiscal years 1985 through 1988, focusing on: (1) how ERS analyzed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) pesticide regulatory proposals; (2) cost of ERS analyzing the EPA proposals and purposes for which ERS used the funds; (3) the number of proposals ERS analyzed; and (4) the impact on EPA of ERS analysis and comments.

GAO found that: (1) ERS conducted its pesticide analyses as part of the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Pesticide Impact Assessment Program (NAPIAP); (2) ERS conducted independent studies on water quality, pesticides, and nonpesticide proposals affecting agriculture; (3) NAPIAP, in conjunction with agricultural experts, scientists, and universities, developed and analyzed information on pesticide use, and assessed EPA pesticide regulations' impact on agriculture and the environment; (4) ERS evaluated the economic impact on producers and consumers of EPA-proposed pesticide regulations; (5) in fiscal years 1985 through 1988, ERS spent about $550,000 to $650,000 annually on database development, economic modelling, and analyses related to EPA pesticide regulations; (6) NAPIAP commented on all 15 EPA proposals to change or cancel certain pesticides; (7) ERS responded to only 7 of 15 EPA pesticide regulations because it felt that the pesticides were not agriculture-related, or because NAPIAP did not assemble an assessment team; (8) ERS and NAPIAP analyses did not impact EPA proposals for three of the four pesticides GAO reviewed, but provided useful comments and limited analytical efforts for three pesticides, and contributed valuable and timely data for one pesticide; and (9) EPA officials believed that ERS pesticide analysis had been objective, and that the agencies' employees regularly communicated informally on pesticides and other matters.

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