Tracking Implementation of the Special Need Request Process Under the Plant Protection Act

November 2011
ELR 11000
Read D. Porter and Nina C. Robertson

States and the federal government have shared the authority to impose quarantines to prevent the introduction and spread of harmful plant pests. Under the Plant Protection Act of 2000, states must obtain a USDA-approved “special need request” before going beyond the restrictions in a federal quarantine. Requests have been filed over the past decade in response to sudden oak death and light brown apple moth. Despite the continued spread of these pests, the USDA has never approved a state request due to the language of the Act and a restrictive agency interpretation. Clarification of the requirements for requests to be judged complete and imposition of time limits on USDA responses could improve the special need request process and improve the federal-state cooperation needed for effective protection against the spread of harmful plant pests within the United States.

Read Porter is a senior attorney with the Environmental Law Institute. Nina Robertson is a law clerk with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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