(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2011) Urgent action is needed to stop the bill, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872), from weakening protections under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the bi-partisan bill yesterday, which amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the CWA to eliminate provisions requiring pesticide applicators to obtain a permit to allow pesticides or their residues to enter waterways. This bill has also been approved unanimously by the House Committee on Agriculture and will reverse a 2009 court order requiring the permits as a part of the National Pollutant Discharge System (NPDES) if it lands on the President’s desk by April 9, 2011.
The 2009 Sixth Circuit court decision, in response to the National Cotton Council v. EPA, overturned the Bush Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule exempting commercial pesticide applications from the oversight provided under CWA. The decision requires NPDES permits for pesticide applications directly to or near waterways in order to reduce and eventually eliminate pollutants in the natural environment.
Sponsors of the bill say that the clean water requirements are “duplicative regulations” which would “unnecessarily burden” farmers and small businesses. However, the potentially high cost of public health problems, environmental clean-up efforts, and irreversible ecological damage that could result in the removal of this permitting process has not been considered. The reality is that this permitting process forces the pesticide users to seek alternative approaches to pest management if their current methods are going to contaminate nearby sources of water. And, given the vast knowledge that we have on organic, integrated pest management (IPM) and non-chemical solutions, this bill will be a disastrous step backwards.
For more background information, please see our previous coverage of this bill in Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News entry from March 11, 2011, and read the testimony of Charlie Tebbutt, the lead council of National Cotton Council v. EPA to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Contact your Representative and urge them to stand with you in opposing the chemical industry’s Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, which would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to eliminate provisions requiring pesticide applicators to obtain a permit to allow pesticides or their residues to enter waterways.