[House Report 116-468]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

116th Congress   }                                             {   Report
                         HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2nd Session     }                                             {  116-468


                    PROTECT OUR REFUGES ACT OF 2019


 August 7, 2020.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed


 Mr. Grijalva, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted the 

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 2854]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 2854) to amend the National Wildlife Refuge 
System Administration Act of 1966 to prohibit the use of 
neonicotinoids in a National Wildlife Refuge, and for other 
purposes, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of H.R. 2854 is to amend the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to prohibit the use of 
neonicotinoids in National Wildlife Refuges.

                  Background and Need for Legislation

    Neonicotinoids are effective neuro-active insecticides that 
impair normal nerve impulses.\1\ As insecticides, they are 
especially toxic to insects (including non-target pollinators), 
but also have potentially adverse human health impacts.\2\ Use 
of neonicotinoid insecticides has continuously increased since 
    \1\See, e.g., Anne Secord & Kathleen Patnode, U.S. FWS, Pilot Study 
to Evaluate Neonicotinoid Pesticides in New York and Pennsylvania 
Streams 4 (2018), https://www.fws.gov/northeast/nyfo/ec/files/
    \2\Neonicotinoid Pesticides and Adverse Health Outcomes, U.S. Dep't 
of Health & Human Servs., Nat'l Toxicology Program, https://
ntp.niehs.nih.gov/pubhealth/hat/selected/neonicotinoid/index.html (last 
updated Apr. 6, 2020).
    There are some national wildlife refuges in which farming 
occurs. In 2014, the Obama administration banned the use of 
neonicotinoid insecticides within the National Wildlife Refuge 
System except for conservation purposes, citing the impact of 
neonicotinoids on ``non-target species.''\3\ In 2018, the Trump 
administration reversed this ban in a Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS) memo.\4\
    \3\Memorandum from James W. Kurth, Chief, Nat'l Wildlife Refuge 
Sys., to Regional Refuge Chiefs, Regions 1-8 (July 17, 2014), available 
at https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/
    \4\Memorandum from Gregory J. Sheehan, Principal Deputy Dir., FWS, 
to Service Directorate (Aug. 2, 2018), available at https://
    The Protect our Refuges Act amends the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act to overturn the Trump 
administration's action and fully prohibit the use of 
neonicotinoids in national wildlife refuges.

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 2854 was introduced on May 20, 2019, by Representative 
Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY). The bill was referred solely to the 
Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. On September 24, 
2019, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the bill. On November 
20, 2019, the Natural Resources Committee met to consider the 
bill. The Subcommittee was discharged by unanimous consent. No 
amendments were offered, and the bill was adopted and ordered 
favorably reported to the House of Representatives by a roll 
call vote of 17 yeas and 13 nays,\5\ as follows:
    \5\Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), an original cosponsor of H.R. 2854, 
requested, after the closing of the vote, that the record reflect that 
had he been present he would have voted in favor of ordering the bill 
favorably reported.


    For the purposes of section 103(i) of H. Res. 6 of the 
116th Congress--the following hearing was used to develop or 
consider H.R. 2854: legislative hearing by the Subcommittee on 
Water, Oceans, and Wildlife held on September 24, 2019.

            Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                  Compliance With House Rule XIII and 
                        Congressional Budget Act

    1. Cost of Legislation and the Congressional Budget Act. 
With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) and (3) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
sections 308(a) and 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974, the Committee has received the following estimate for the 
bill from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                 Washington, DC, February 19, 2020.
Hon. Raul M. Grijalva,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2854, the Protect 
Our Refuges Act of 2019.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Janani 
                                         Phillip L. Swagel,


    H.R. 2854 would prohibit the use of neonicotinoids--a type 
of insecticide used in agriculture--within the National 
Wildlife Refuge System, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS).
    USFWS allows private farming on certain refuge lands under 
cooperative agreements. Under those agreements, farmers are 
generally responsible for all costs associated with producing 
crops, including the costs for insecticides. CBO expects that 
implementing H.R. 2854 could result in a small increase in the 
administrative workload of USFWS to manage those agreements; 
however, we estimate that any additional costs incurred by the 
agency would not be significant. Any spending would be subject 
to the availability of appropriated funds.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Janani 
Shankaran. The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, 
Deputy Director of Budget Analysis.
    2. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goals and 
objectives of this bill are to amend the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 to prohibit the use of 
neonicotinoids in National Wildlife Refuges.

                           Earmark Statement

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                 Unfunded Mandates Reform Act Statement

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                           Existing Programs

    This bill does not establish or reauthorize a program of 
the federal government known to be duplicative of another 

                  Applicability to Legislative Branch

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

               Preemption of State, Local, or Tribal Law

    Any preemptive effect of this bill over state, local, or 
tribal law is intended to be consistent with the bill's 
purposes and text and the Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the 
U.S. Constitution.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italics, and existing law in which no 
change is proposed is shown in roman):


           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

  No person may use a neonicotinoid in the System.


   For purposes of this Act:
          (1) The term ``compatible use'' means a wildlife-
        dependent recreational use or any other use of a refuge 
        that, in the sound professional judgment of the 
        Director, will not materially interfere with or detract 
        from the fulfillment of the mission of the System or 
        the purposes of the refuge.
          (2) The terms ``wildlife-dependent recreation'' and 
        ``wildlife-dependent recreational use'' mean a use of a 
        refuge involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation 
        and photography, or environmental education and 
          (3) The term ``sound professional judgment'' means a 
        finding, determination, or decision that is consistent 
        principles of sound fish and wildlife management and 
        administration, available science and resources, and 
        adherence to the requirements of this Act and other 
        applicable laws.
          (4) The terms ``conserving'', ``conservation'', 
        ``manage'', ``managing'', and ``management'', mean to 
        sustain and, where 
        appropriate, restore and enhance, healthy populations 
        of fish, wildlife, and plants utilizing, in accordance 
        with applicable Federal and State laws, methods and 
        procedures associated with modern scientific resource 
        programs. Such methods and procedures include, 
        consistent with the provisions of this Act, protection, 
        research, census, law enforcement, habitat management, 
        propagation, live trapping and transplantation, and 
        regulated taking.
          (5) The term ``Coordination Area'' means a wildlife 
        management area that is made available to a State--
                  (A) by cooperative agreement between the 
                United States Fish and Wildlife Service and a 
                State agency having control over wildlife 
                resources pursuant to section 4 of the Fish and 
                Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 664); or
                  (B) by long-term leases or agreements 
                pursuant to title III of the Bankhead-Jones 
                Farm Tenant Act (50 Stat. 525; 7 U.S.C. 1010 et 
          (6) The term ``Director'' means the Director of the 
        United States Fish and Wildlife Service or a designee 
        of that Director.
          (7) The terms ``fish'', ``wildlife'', and ``fish and 
        wildlife'' mean any wild member of the animal kingdom 
        whether alive or dead, and regardless of whether the 
        member was bred, hatched, or born in captivity, 
        including a part, product, egg, or offspring of the 
          (8) The term ``person'' means any individual, 
        partnership, corporation, or association.
          (9) The term ``plant'' means any member of the plant 
        kingdom in a wild, unconfined state, including any 
        plant community, seed, root, or other part of a plant.
          (10) The terms ``purposes of the refuge'' and 
        ``purposes of each refuge'' mean the purposes specified 
        in or derived from the law, proclamation, executive 
        order, agreement, public land order, donation document, 
        or administrative memorandum establishing, authorizing, 
        or expanding a refuge, refuge unit, or refuge subunit.
          (11) The term ``refuge'' means a designated area of 
        land, water, or an interest in land or water within the 
        System, but does not include Coordination Areas.
          (12) The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of 
        the Interior.
          (13) The terms ``State'' and ``United States'' mean 
        the several States of the United States, Puerto Rico, 
        American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the 
        territories and possessions of the United States.
          (14) The term ``System'' means the National Wildlife 
        Refuge System designated under section 4(a)(1).
          (15) The terms ``take'', ``taking'', and ``taken'' 
        mean to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, or kill, 
        or to attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, capture, collect, 
        or kill.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    Neonicotinoids (neonics) are critical to agriculture, 
protecting over 100 different crops around the world, including 
tomatoes, berries, citrus, tree nuts and leafy greens, from an 
unlimited range of destructive insects. In addition to 
combatting insect damage to crops, neonics also protect 
forests, wildlife habitat and other areas. Neonics have been 
approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and have 
been safely and extensively used over the past twenty plus 
years in the United States. In fact, EPA has repeatedly and 
consistently found the class of insecticides banned by H.R. 
2854 to be safe to human health and the environment (including 
wildlife) when used in accordance with the label. For example, 
Imidacloprid has such a favorable safety profile for mammals 
that it is used in flea and tick control products that are 
applied directly to dogs and cats.
    Supporting the elimination of the use of neonics in 
National Wildlife Refuges sends mixed messages. If a pesticide 
applicator is using a product within EPA's label parameters, 
then exposure to non-target organisms will be kept at 
acceptable levels regardless of whether these organisms are 
located on private, federal, State, or tribal lands. To ban 
neonics only on federal lands, such as National Wildlife 
Refuges, is not only arbitrary but it undermines the integrity 
and legitimacy of EPA's pesticide risk assessment process, 
which is widely recognized as the best in the world. The public 
would question the government's decision to ``protect'' certain 
federal properties, but not others.
    It should be noted that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) 
could be impacted as well where its lands overlap or abut 
National Wildlife Refuges. USFS has a large stake in proper 
pest management, as it faces major forest insect infestations 
that must be properly managed to avoid catastrophic tree losses 
and possibly wildfires. Regarding specific pest threats in 
forests and trees, neonics are used to combat the emerald ash 
borer, which has killed millions of ash trees across the United 
States; the Asian longhorn beetle, a threat to hardwood forests 
in the northern U.S. (especially in the northeast), which kills 
ash, birch, elm, sycamore, maple, poplar, willow and other tree 
species; the spotted lanternfly (expected to expand in the 
northeast), which is an invasive pest that attacks many species 
of trees, fruit crops and vines; the hemlock woolly adelgid; 
and citrus psyllids, which are responsible for spreading deadly 
citrus greening disease in Florida and California.
    For these reasons, we oppose H.R. 2854.

                                   Rob Bishop.
                                   Louie Gohmert.
                                   Jody B. Hice.