The Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday approved key changes in the basic federal pesticide control law, giving the chemical industry most of what it wanted but at the same time probably dooming the bill's chances of enactment.

After less than an hour of discussion, the committee voted a two-year extension of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) that left state governments and environmentalists fuming.

The committee version would put new restraints on the ability of the states to register new pesticides and, in the name of protecting trade secrets, it would impose other limits on public access to health and safety data.

With time running out on the 97th Congress, the adoption of these controversial sections -- vigorously opposed by states and environmental groups -- assured that the bill will face tough sledding before and after it reaches the Senate floor.

Even if adopted by the Senate as now written, the bill would face more contention in conference with the House. A sharply different House version retains unchanged the present right of states to require more data than the federal Environmental Protection Agency before approving a pesticide.

Through months of FIFRA debate on Capitol Hill, the states' rights issue generated the most controversy. Governors, state agriculture departments, environmentalists and the EPA argued strongly against industry efforts to curb the states' regulatory powers.

Industry argued that the states -- and California in particular, which has the nation's most stringent regulatory program -- were costing companies millions of dollars in sales because of excessive data requests and delays in approving registrations.

The House rejected those arguments, but the Senate committee took a different tack. It adopted a "compromise" offered by Sen. S. I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.), but actually written and circulated by the Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association, a major lobbying group.

An earlier Hayakawa proposal, promoted by the industry, would have made the EPA an arbitrator in state-company disputes. The EPA long opposed this, although its position was tempered after the White House, bowing to industry and Republican legislators' pressures, dropped its opposition when a similar provision was pending in the House.

The CSMA compromise would allow companies to take their complaints about state registration procedures to the federal courts for resolution and it would tighten the timetables under which their applications would have to be handled by the states.

The committee, however, went a different direction on another hotly disputed issue, involving the power of companies to protect from disclosure certain data on innovative production methods and technology. That protection was eliminated at the insistence of Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who warned that the entire bill could be endangered otherwise.

But the committee declined to accept a House-passed provision that would give private citizens the right to seek court remedies for chemical-related damage or injury, even though the bill gives companies court access and treble damages in cases of illicit disclosure of trade secrets. The National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides had lobbied strongly for the private right of action.

And another of the coalition's causes, allowing foreign citizens and scientists to have the same access to health and safety data that U.S. citizens would have, went down to defeat. Hill Unit Backs Changes In Federal Pesticide Law By Ward Sinclair Washington Post Staff Writer

The Senate Agriculture Committee yesterday approved key changes in the basic federal pesticide control law, giving the chemical industry most of what it wanted but at the same time probably dooming the bill's chances of enactment.

After less than an hour of discussion, the committee voted a two-year extension of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) that left state governments and environmentalists fuming.

The committee version would put new restraints on the ability of the states to register new pesticides and, in the name of protecting trade secrets, it would impose other limits on public access to health and safety data.

With time running out on the 97th Congress, the adoption of these controversial sections -- vigorously opposed by states and environmental groups -- assured that the bill will face tough sledding before and after it reaches the Senate floor.

Even if adopted by the Senate as now written, the bill would face more contention in conference with the House. A sharply different House version retains unchanged the present right of states to require more data than the federal Environmental Protection Agency before approving a pesticide.

Through months of FIFRA debate on Capitol Hill, the states' rights issue generated the most controversy. Governors, state agriculture departments, environmentalists and the EPA argued strongly against industry efforts to curb the states' regulatory powers.

Industry argued that the states--and California in particular, which has the nation's most stringent regulatory program -- were costing companies millions of dollars in sales because of excessive data requests and delays in approving registrations.

The House rejected those arguments, but the Senate committee took a different tack. It adopted a "compromise" offered by Sen. S. I. Hayakawa (R-Calif.), but actually written and circulated by the Chemical Specialties Manufacturers Association, a major lobbying group.

An earlier Hayakawa proposal, promoted by the industry, would have made the EPA an arbitrator in state-company disputes. The EPA long opposed this, although its position was tempered after the White House, bowing to industry and Republican legislators' pressures, dropped its opposition when a similar provision was pending in the House.

The CSMA compromise would allow companies to take their complaints about state registration procedures to the federal courts for resolution and it would tighten the timetables under which their applications would have to be handled by the states.

The committee, however, went a different direction on another hotly disputed issue, involving the power of companies to protect from disclosure certain data on innovative production methods and technology. That protection was eliminated at the insistence of Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who warned that the entire bill could be endangered otherwise.

But the committee declined to accept a House-passed provision that would give private citizens the right to seek court remedies for chemical-related damage or injury, even though the bill gives companies court access and treble damages in cases of illicit disclosure of trade secrets. The National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides had lobbied strongly for the private right of action.

And another of the coalition's causes, allowing foreign citizens and scientists to have the same access to health and safety data that U.S. citizens would have, went down to defeat.