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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Water Regulation' Category


23
Dec

Fed To Require Strengthened State Protection from Nonpoint Pesticide Pollution

Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2013) The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  in a  Federal Register notice  has found that the state of Oregon’s program to reduce nonpoint coastal pollution is inadequate. Both federal agencies state that Oregon’s program does not adequately protect streams that provide habitat for Coho Salmon, an endangered species, and drinking water from herbicides that are aerially sprayed by lumber companies. This notice comes just after a recent report was released by Beyond Toxics on the health and environmental problems caused by aerial herbicide application on timber forests near Triangle Lake. EPA and NOAA’s proposed disapproval action of Oregon’s Coastal Nonpoint Program finds that the state has failed to adequately protect certain waterways within the state. Under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (CZARA) of 1990, states are required to submit an approvable Costal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program to NOAA and EPA. In 1998, federal agencies approved the Oregon Nonpoint Program with conditions that the state meet certain water pollution issues. This proposed disapproval action is part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Northwest Environmental Advocates in 2009, which charged Oregon has failed to meet the conditions […]

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13
Dec

Unregulated Contaminants Found Widespread in U.S. Drinking Water

(Beyond Pesticides, December 13, 2013) A recent survey conducted by researchers at the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found traces of 18 unregulated chemicals in drinking water from more than one third of U.S. water utilities. Of the 21 total chemicals found, researchers discovered among them 11 perfluorinated chemicals, an herbicide, two solvents, caffeine, an antibacterial chemical, a metal and an antidepressant. Preliminary findings were presented by scientists at an annual toxicology conference held by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry last month in Nashville. Federal researchers took samples from 25 U.S. utilities from around the nation who voluntarily participated in the study, providing samples of treated and untreated water. Disturbingly, 18 of the chemicals found are not regulated under the Safe Water Drinking Act, meaning utility companies are not required to treat, limit, or even monitor for their presence. “The good news is the concentrations are generally pretty low,” said USGS research hydrologist Dana Kolpin, PhD. to Environmental Health News. “But,” he continued “there’s still the unknown. Are there long-term consequences of low-level exposure to these chemicals?” While there is a paucity of data on some of the contaminants, regulated chemicals such […]

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05
Dec

House Farm Bill Provision Would Make Eating Fish More Dangerous

(Beyond Pesticides, December 4, 2013) It’s farm bill debate time””again. And as conferee members saddle up to the negotiation table to attempt yet another meeting of the minds before the winter recess, most of the public watching and waiting for word on a resolution are focused on issues like food stamps and milk. What most are not waiting for and has not been at the forefront of the media and public discussion concerning the pending farm bill negotiations are the small but dangerous provisions of the House bill concerning the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (expanded and overhauled  as the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate pesticides used near, over, and in water. It should be. Seeking to nullify the Sixth Circuit’s ruling in National Cotton Council v. EPA and the resulting general permit, sections 12323 and 100013 amend CWA to exclude pesticides from the law’s standards and its permitting requirements. Known as the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), CWA requires all point sources, which are discernible and discreet conveyances, to obtain either individual or general permits. Whether a point source must obtain an individual or general permit depends […]

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21
Nov

Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizer Leaches from Soils to Groundwater over Decades

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2013) Scientists in France and at the University of Calgary say that nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops lingers in the soil and for decades leaches toward groundwater —much longer than previously thought. The study was led by researcher Mathieu Sebilo, Ph.D. at the UniversitĂ© Pierre et Marie Currie in Paris, France, and by Bernhard Mayer, Ph.D. in the U of C’s Department of Geoscience, and included several research organizations in France. The study, Long-term fate of nitrate fertilizer in agricultural soils, was published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. in October. The study shows that the loss of synthetic nitrogen (N) fertilizer in groundwater occurs at low rates over many decades, which means it could take years to reduce nitrate contamination in groundwater, including in aquifers that supply drinking water. The researchers recommend that as a result of the “legacies of past applications of synthetic fertilizers in agricultural systems,” mitigation or restoration measures must take into account this delay. In fact, the scientists found that three decades after application of isotopically labeled fertilizer N to agricultural soils in 1982 12—15% of the fertilizer-derived N is still residing in the soil […]

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19
Nov

White Paper Outlines New Approach to Endangered Species Act Pesticide Review

(Beyond Pesticides, November 19, 2013) Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U .S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released a white paper identifying how they plan to reconfigure the pesticide review process to meet the pesticide approval requirements for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The new approach outlined in the white paper incorporates suggestions from the National Academy of Sciences’ Research Council (NRC) report released last May. The white paper is a step towards overhauling a deeply flawed process, though there will be several challenges to implementing this new approach for the agencies moving forward. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), before a pesticide can be sold, distributed, or used in the U.S., EPA is required to determine that the pesticide does not cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment. However, in the case of species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA, all federal agencies, including EPA, are required to ensure that their actions will not jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species by diminishing the species’ numbers and reproduction. To do this, in its pesticide registration process, EPA is required to […]

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30
Oct

It’s Back! Provision that Undermines Clean Water Act Resurfaces in Congress

(Beyond Pesticides, October 30, 2013) Once again, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is urging Farm Bill conference committee members to accept a provision that would eliminate what they call a redundant permitting requirement for pesticide users. H.R. 935: Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2013 is similar to a previous piece of legislation that was passed in the U.S.  House of Representatives  in 2011 to eliminate the requirement that pesticide applicators obtain Clean Water Act (CWA) permits (known as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination  System (NPDES) permit)  for applications where pesticides could be discharged into water. A  bipartisan group of  Senators hope to use the Farm Bill to eliminate permitting requirement, continuing to believe the myth that permits burden farmers and applicators. The Senate and House are now in a conference committee to work out the details of a new Farm Bill to reauthorize the current law. A dozen Senators, led by Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., have asked House and Senate negotiators to do away with the CWA regulation of pesticide discharges as they consider a compromise Farm Bill. Legislation eliminating the CWA permitting requirement last year passed the House, but the move to strip the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) […]

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31
Jul

Third Time in Three Years – Pesticides Believed to be Cause of Fish Kills in Canada

(Beyond Pesticides, July 31, 2013) Environmental officials are investigating why dozens of dead fish are washing up on the banks of two rivers in western Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), Canada. For the third time in three years, dead fish have been spotted rising to the surface of Barclay Brook where thousands of fish died in 2011 and 2012 after pesticides from farmers’ fields ran off into the water.   Almost exactly one year ago, when more than 2,000 dead fish were scooped from the near two-mile stretch of Barclay Brook, dead fish again began washing up on the banks of the same river in western P.E.I. following heavy rains last Friday. About a dozen were found the day of the rains, but officials and volunteers with the local watershed group have since found more than 100. The nearby Mill River also experienced a fish kill, with the first dead fish reported being washed up on Monday. P.E.I. Department of Environment and Environment Canada officials are investigating the fish kills. Government spokesman Wayne MacKinnon says pesticide run-off could be the cause of the latest fish kill, but water samples collected on the weekend have yet to be tested. Dale Cameron, a […]

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24
Jul

New EPA Administrator Urged to Protect Farmworkers and Bees

(Beyond Pesticides, July 24, 2013) Gina McCarthy, a veteran environmental regulator and President Obama’s pick to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),  finally had her appointment confirmed by the U.S. Senate after an almost five month delay imposed by Senate Republicans. Ms. McCarthy’s appointment got caught up with other cabinet appointments that Republicans were blocking. News of her confirmation was applauded by environmental groups who urge her to focus of several key environmental issues before the agency including climate change, farmworker justice, and pollinator protection. Last Friday the Senate confirmed Gina McCarthy to lead EPA, ending the agency’s longest period without a permanent administrator and closing the door on a contentious dispute over votes on executive nominees. Ms. McCarthy, who currently heads the agency’s Air and Radiation Office, was confirmed on a 59-40 vote. Ms. McCarthy will succeed Lisa Jackson, who stepped down in February, and replaces acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee cleared Ms. McCarthy’s nomination in May. Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote that the Senate could “not have a more qualified, more bipartisan nominee,” noting that Ms. McCarthy had worked for Republican governors in […]

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19
Jul

Federal Report Finds Stream Health Severely Degraded

(Beyond Pesticides, July 19, 2013) A recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) examines the health of the nation’s streams over 20 years and finds that streams nationwide are severely degraded by humans, exhibiting elevated levels of pesticides and nutrients as well as streamflow modifications. Overall, the report finds that 83 percent of streams in agricultural and urban areas contain at least one aquatic community that was altered, or in other words, negatively affected. With waterways in the U.S. increasingly imperiled from various agents including agricultural and industrial discharges, nutrient loading (nitrogen and phosphorus), and biological agents such as pathogens, assessments such as these provide further impetus to protect water quality for both human health and the environment. The report, entitled “Quality of Our Nation’s Waters: Ecological Health in the Nation’s Streams, 1993-2005,” describes the health of three biological communities ””algae, macroinvertebrates, and fish”” to  measure the overall quality of streams. A stream’s ability to support these community structures can directly measure the health of waterways. The report assesses streamflow modifications and measures over 100 chemical constituents in water and streambed sediments. The report is a comprehensive assessment of the variety of factors that contribute to stream health declines, […]

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09
Jul

Chlorpyrifos Contamination Could Lead to Trout Troubles in UK

(Beyond Pesticides, July 9, 2013) A recent pesticide contamination incident in Great Britain’s Kennet River has decimated aquatic invertebrate populations on a ten mile stretch of river between the towns of  Marlborough and Hungerford. The contamination occurred after a spill of the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos entered a Marlborough sewage system. The lack of aquatic invertebrates could lead to a dramatic decline of the river’s chalk trout population. A similar incident occurred in Great Britain on the Wey River in 2003, and in Sussex Ouse in 2001. This recent calamity helps to underscore the importance for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), across the Atlantic, to fully implement pesticide restrictions that U.S. conservation groups are seeking to enforce through court action. The damage to the U.K. river may have been caused by, according to an Express article, only two tablespoons of the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyifos. Members of the public have been advised by Britain’s Environment Agency to avoid skin contact with the water and not to eat fish caught from the river.  The contamination has occurred at the height of fly-fishing season. Environmental organizations are afraid that a decline in the number of aquatic invertebrates could lead chalk trout and other […]

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08
Jul

China To Deal with Massive Contamination of Groundwater Used for Drinking Water

(Beyond Pesticides, July 8, 2013) The Chinese government has just announced its work plan to manage and clean up contaminated groundwater in North China Plains, a region where many are completely dependent on groundwater for drinking water. Eighteen percent of water use in China is groundwater. Unfortunately, the report indicates this groundwater is highly contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers, and irrigation waste water from agricultural expansion, as well as petrochemical industry wastewater, and domestic and industrial waste. Considering 400 of the approximately 655 cities in China are completely reliant on groundwater for drinking, the plan could not come sooner. Likely though, “It will be very expensive to clean up, if it is even possible,” said Sun Ge, PhD., research hydrologist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Southern Research Station. Many of the chemicals are extremely persistent, remaining in the environment years after they were released. The plan marks progress made after a massive government investigation launched in 2006, which found that groundwater of the North China Plains, home to nearly 130 million people, was almost irreparably contaminated. After six years of investigation and a year of planning, the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources has finally announced its work […]

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05
Jul

Ohio Senate Bill Seeks to Curb Fertilizer Runoff

(Beyond Pesticides, July 5, 2013) A bill recently introduced in the Ohio State Senate would grant state agencies new regulatory powers intended to stunt the spread of toxic blue green algae in Lake Erie. Senate Bill 150, introduced by Republican State Senator  Cliff Hite, will empower the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to require reductions in the amount of fertilizer runoff that is produced by farms. Currently the state lacks authority to limit commercial fertilizer runoff. Swift action is needed as blue green algae blooms, which feed off phosphorus in fertilizer runoff, have increased dramatically in Lake Erie since the mid-1990’s. The proposed legislation would provide ODNR the authority to cite farmers who allow fertilizers to runoff their field. Under the proposed bill, the Chief of ODNR would issue orders to farmers to comply with technical standards, to be created by ODNR,  that “achieve a level of management and conservation practices that will…abate the degradations of the waters of the state by soil amendments.”  Under this legislation, farmers will have to undergo training and receive a certificate from ODA to apply fertilizers and manure. “Farmers would apply for a fertilizer certificate in the […]

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27
Jun

Connecticut Passes Law to Curb Pesticide Use to Save Lobsters

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2013) After years of lobster decline, a new law in Connecticut seeks to protect and revive the crustacean population by banning the use of toxic mosquito pesticides in coastal areas. With the support of Connecticut’s remaining lobsterman, Governor Dannel Malloy last Friday signed into law  House Bill 6441,  which bans two chemicals, methoprene and resmethrin. Declines in the   sound’s lobster population have been alarmingly common for the past 15 years, devastating fishermen and the local economy that depends on them. The pesticides have long been suspected in killing off the lobsters; however last summer, it was officially linked when those chemicals were detected in lobster tissue last summer. Connecticut legislators say that they were convinced that banning the two mosquito pesticides after learning that Rhode Island and Massachusetts had enacted similar bans with successful results. “The fisheries of Long Island Sound have been devastated by this lobster die-off, which has been terrible for our local economy and all the families that relied on this industry,” State Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk, Darien) said in a statement. “We should be doing everything we can to reverse the trend and bring the lobster population back to a healthy […]

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21
Jun

New Report Showcases Atrazine Manufacturer’s Efforts to Discredit Critics

(Beyond Pesticides, June 21, 2013) A scathing new investigative report shows that atrazine manufacturer, Syngenta Crop Protection, launched an aggressive multi-million dollar campaign in response to a class action lawsuit that threatened to remove the controversial herbicide atrazine  from the market. The report reveals that the pesticide giant routinely paid “third-party allies” to appear to be independent supporters, keeping a list of 130 people and groups it could recruit as experts without disclosing ties to the company. The company, the report finds,  also purportedly hired a detective agency to investigate scientists on a federal advisory panel, looking into the personal life of a judge and commissioning a psychological profile of Tyrone Hayes, PhD, one of the leading scientists critical of atrazine, whose research finds that atrazine feminizes male frogs. Recently unsealed court documents reveal a corporate strategy to discredit critics and to strip plaintiffs from the class action case. 100Reporters, a nonprofit investigative journalism group, obtained the documents from the lawsuit in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The campaign is spelled out in hundreds of pages of memos, invoices, and other documents from the  Illinois’ Madison County Circuit Court, which were initially sealed as part of a 2004 […]

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04
Jun

The 2013 Farm Bill: Act Now to Protect Pollinators, Our Food, and Your Health

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2013)  We all know the problems we’re having with Congress these days, and all this turmoil comes together this week as the Senate returns to debate amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill.The country’s environmental and public health is under attack in the current bill — but at the same time there are some encouraging signs. The fate of these proposals will have a profound impact on the future of food in the United States, as well as the health of people and the broader environment. Beyond Pesticides has singled out several issues below that we urge you to act on today, before the Senate votes, in order to both maintain important safeguards for human and environmental health, advance organic, and develop critical protections for pollinators. Because these issues are complex, we are asking you to send separate letters on 5 key topics, which we’ve prepared with just 5 easy clicks! OPPOSE Senator Joe Donnelly’s (D-IN) amendment to the Farm Bill that will reverse our efforts to take the hazardous fumigant sulfuryl fluoride out of our food supply OPPOSE amendments SA 1100 and SA 1103 would remove commonsense protections from pesticide applications directly into our nation’s waterways […]

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20
May

USGS Documents Threat of Pesticides to Waterways; Farm Bill Amendment Undermines Clean Water Act

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2013) The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a national assessment that shows the distribution and trends of pesticide use from 1992-2009, providing visible evidence that contamination of pesticides in our nation’s water is clearly a continuing threat. Meanwhile, U.S. Senators are gearing up to put their version of the Farm   Bill on the table that would eliminate common sense protections from pesticide applications into our nation’s waterways. These highly controversial  amendments would undermine the Clean Water Act and put our health and the environment at risk. Tell your Senators to oppose any efforts to undermine the Clean Water Act. The USGS maps provide, for the first time, a visible depiction of the agricultural use of 459 pesticides for each year during 1992-2009. Maps were created by allocating county-level use estimates to agricultural land within each county. A graph accompanies each map, which shows annual national use by major crop for the mapped pesticide for each year during the period. These pesticide use estimates are suitable for evaluating national and regional patterns and trends of annual pesticide use. To see the maps, go to USGS’s Pesticide National Synthesis Project Page and click on a pesticide. The […]

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27
Mar

EPA Upholds Clean Water Act, Steps in to Add Impaired Streams to State List

(Beyond Pesticides, March 27, 2013) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped in this week to revise a biennial report on impaired rivers and streams across West Virginia, after state officials, under pressure from industry interests, left more than 1,000 miles of polluted waterways off the list. EPA officials stated that the Clean Water Act does not allow the state to ignore evidence that streams are troubled. Water standards and plans for cleanup must be adopted for impaired waterways. EPA reprimanded West Virginia from shirking its responsibilities under the law to list all of the state’s impaired streams, in spite of industry interference. EPA Region  3 officials are now proposing to add an additional 255 waterway segments where aquatic life is impaired to the state’s 303(d) list, named for the section of the Clean Water Act that requires it be prepared. Section 303(d) requires a listing of impaired streams in the state, and the list is used for water standard development for subsequent cleanup plans and restoration of the impaired waterways. States are required to publish such lists every two years. West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) submitted The West Virginia Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report   […]

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