Congressional Bill Eases Restrictions On Pesticide Spraying Near Waterways

Congressional Bill Eases Restrictions On Pesticide Spraying Near Waterways
Pesticide spraying near streams to expand under Congressional bill

A bill allowing pesticide manufacturers and users to avoid the Clean Water Act permitting process passed in the Senate Agriculture Committee today.

If passed in the Senate, bill H.R. 872 lets farmers spray pesticides near public waters without having to meet Clean Water Act permitting requirements.

A 2007 EPA rule allowing all pesticides listed in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to be exempted from Clean Water Act permitting requirements was reversed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009.

The amendment, on its way to the Senate floor, reinstates the exemptions, effectively skirting the legal battles over whether pesticide residue is a chemical waste that can be regulated as a pollutant under the Act.

Growers, ranchers and others have highlighted the regulation as an example of unnecessary federal bureaucracy, while environmentalists supported it as a hedge against over-use of chemicals that may be perilous to aquatic life and to drinking water.

“The Committee sided with the pesticide industry and against our health and the health of our waters by eliminating all Clean Water Act protections of our rivers, lakes and streams against pesticide pollution,” said Natural Resources Defense Council staff attorney Mae Wu.

FIFRA is a federal pesticide law used by the Environment Protection Agency to evaluate whether the pesticide a manufacturer wants to sell is safe. A manufacturer cannot sell or use a pesticide until the EPA registers it. Manufacturers, such DOW, Monsanto and DuPont, have to prove their pesticide will not cause “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.” The EPA takes these results into account before giving the OK. The Clean Water Act is more specific, requiring a pesticide user intending to spray into or near a body of water to apply for a permit. The permit requires the pesticide user to consider alternatives before spraying.

The Clean Water Act aims to minimize pesticide use, whereas FIFRA allows companies to use the maximum amount of a pesticide that would not cause unreasonable and adverse effects. Under FIFRA, if the EPA OKs a pesticide, and that pesticide is used near water, no Clean Water Act permit has to be issued.

“FIFRA is weak when holding companies accountable,” said Mae Wu. “With the Clean Water Act, if you violate a permit, spray pesticides near water and unintentionally kill a species , then you can be sued.”

Wu said if H.R. 872 passes, “companies can do whatever they want” and no longer will have to answer to Clean Water Act requirements. Monsanto and DuPont officials were not immediately available for comment. Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a press release in March that H.R. 872 would eliminate “another regulatory hoop” for people who apply legally registered pesticides.

More at the link

With this entry and one other you will see what is now taking place in our bought and sold US Congress. A concerted attack on the Clean Water Act to strip away all restrictions for corporations to pollute our waterways. This is an egregious admittance that our government no longer works for the people and their best interests and health, nor does it care for the health of our water resources.

This will only change when we demand it. I am adding the names of the committee members here and ask you to please contact them if you care about what toxic substances are being released into your waterways. Reports state that this year's Gulf of Mexico dead zone will be the largest. We are not the only species affected by these laws.

Debbie Stabenow, Michigan

Pat Roberts, Kansas
Ranking Member
Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont

Richard G. Lugar, Indiana

Tom Harkin, Iowa

Thad Cochran, Mississippi

Kent Conrad, North Dakota

Mitch McConnell, Kentucky

Max Baucus, Montana

Saxby Chambliss, Georgia

E. Benjamin Nelson, Nebraska

Mike Johanns, Nebraska

Sherrod Brown, Ohio

John Boozman, Arkansas*

Robert Casey, Jr., Pennsylvania

Charles Grassley, Iowa

Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota

John Thune, South Dakota

Michael Bennet, Colorado

John Hoeven, North Dakota*

Kirsten Gillibrand, New York

Agriculture Committee Site

I'm writing to the members of the committee.