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Take Action! Congress To Weaken Clean Water Act

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

(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. Take Action Now. 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 […]

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Congress Advances Bill to Limit Clean Water Protections from Pesticides

Friday, March 11th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2011) The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture unanimously approved a bill, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872), on Wednesday, March 9 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. The bill would effectively reverse a 2009 Sixth Circuit court decision which ruled that, under FIFRA and the CWA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must require such permits. A similar bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate last year. The 2009 court ruling came in the case National Cotton Council v. EPA. Prior to this case, EPA had deemed it unnecessary to require permits for pesticide applications near waterways. These previous regulations meant that, in instances where pesticides were applied directly to water to control pests such as mosquito larvae or aquatic weeds, or when pesticides were applied to control pests over or near water, applications were held to the much less stringent FIFRA standards. FIFRA, unlike the CWA, does not fully regulate or monitor water quality and the protection of aquatic ecosystems in […]

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Chemical Ag Lobby Attacks EPA Over New Regulatory Decisions

Monday, October 4th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2010) The Nebraska Farm Bureau and its champion, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb), have recently expressed concern over a series of actions and proposals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concerning agriculture. Arguing that EPA is “overreaching” and is “out of control” by introducing new regulations that create “more paperwork” for its farmers, Sen. Nelson and advocates for chemical-intensive agriculture dismiss the EPA’s mandate to protect public and environmental health. Sen. Nelson recently brought up his concerns at a Senate hearing with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking the state’s congressional delegation to work with their colleagues to halt EPA’s “non-stop regulatory assault on the state’s farmers and ranchers and their counterparts nationwide.” In addressing Administrator Jackson, Sen. Nelson said he agreed with a number of Nebraska producers who have told him that agriculture’s perspective is not being considered in EPA’s decision making, saying that, “EPA is overreaching with proposed regulations for carbon emissions, atrazine, dust standards, applying clean water rules on pesticide use and greenhouse gas reporting for livestock operations.” “Many in the agricultural community are rightly concerned about EPA’s actions because the agency’s rules typically are implemented in a top-down fashion […]

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Groups Tell Senators to Stop Undermining Clean Water Act

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, September 2, 2010) Beyond Pesticides, along with dozens of environmental and public health groups from across the country, sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, urging the withdrawal of S. 3735, a bill that would strip the Clean Water Act of protections from pesticides. The bill, introduced by Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the Senate Agricultural Committee’s Chair and Ranking Member, seeks to nullify regulations that require pesticide applicators apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under CWA before applying pesticides on or near surface waters. The groups say Congress should be supporting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in fulfilling its task, rather than undermining laws that protect public health and the environment. Senators Lincoln and Chambliss argue that because pesticides are registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) additional regulation is unnecessary and the legislation will reduce the burden on farmers, foresters and ranchers. In their August 30th letter, the groups say, “CWA complements and does not duplicate the pesticide registration reviews conducted by EPA under FIFRA, which sets a general national standard that does not take into account conditions and […]

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Bill Would Strip Clean Water Act Protections from Pesticides

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, August 10, 2010) Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) introduced legislation on August 6, 2010 that would strip the public of the protection provided by the Clean Water Act (CWA) from the toxic hazards of pesticides applied to or near U.S. waterways. If successful, the bill, S. 3735, would nullify regulations that require pesticide applicators apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits under CWA before applying pesticides on or near surface waters. Beyond Pesticides encourages its members to contact their Senators and let them know how they feel about S. 3735. Senators Lincoln and Chambliss say that because pesticides are registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) additional regulation is unnecessary and the legislation will reduce the burden on farmers, foresters and ranchers. Environmentalists argue that CWA is more protective, and pesticides should be regulated under both statues to improve protections for human health and the environment. CWA uses a health-based standard known as maximum contamination levels to protect waterways and requires permits when chemicals are directly deposited into rivers, lakes and streams, while FIFRA uses a highly subjective […]

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Tell EPA to Strengthen Proposed Pesticide Water Permits

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2010) Beyond Pesticides is urging the public to send comments by July 19, 2010 to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its recently issued draft “general permit” under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that will govern aquatic pesticides and certain pesticide spraying over or near surface waters, including mosquito spraying and spraying over forest canopies and near irrigation ditches. Environmental groups believe the pesticide industry is lobbying to make this permit as weak as possible. Beyond Pesticides encourages individuals to send comments to EPA supporting strong, meaningful regulation of pesticide applications in order to fully protect public health and the environment. See talking points and instructions for sending comments below. Background EPA announced the public availability of a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit, posted here, for certain pesticide use patterns, also known as the Pesticides General Permit (PGP) on June 2, 2010. The action stems from a 2009 court decision in the case of the National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA, in which the 6th circuit court of appeals ruled that pesticide discharges into water are pollutants and require permitting under the CWA. This ruling overturned the Bush administration policy that […]

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EPA Proposes New Pesticide Discharge Permits

Friday, June 4th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, June 4, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new permit requirements for the discharge of pesticides into US waterways. EPA announced the public availability of a draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for certain pesticide use patterns, also known as the Pesticides General Permit (PGP). The agency is accepting public comments until July 19, 2010. This action stems from a 2009 court decision in the case of the National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA, in which the 6th circuit court of appeals ruled that pesticide discharges into water are pollutants and require permitting under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This ruling overturned the Bush administration policy that exempted pesticides from regulation under the CWA, and instead applied the less stringent standards of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). CWA uses a kind of health-based standard known as maximum contamination levels to protect waterways and requires permits when chemicals are directly deposited into rivers, lakes and streams, while FIFRA uses a highly subjective risk assessment that does not consider safer alternatives. EPA will issue permits in territories, Indian Country Lands, 6 states and the District of Columbia where the Agency is […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Lets Stand Pesticide Use Permitting to Protect Waterways

Friday, February 26th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2010) The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to review a U.S.Circuit Court decision in National Cotton Council (NCC) v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), upholding EPA’s authority to subject pesticide use to a permitting process under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In January of 2009, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling that commercial application of certain pesticides must be regulated under the Clean Water Act. EPA is now working to create a permitting system that complies with the ruling under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). This is one of three high profile cases the Supreme Court refused to hear involving industry challenges to government regulations. In the case of the Texas Water Development Board v. the Department of Interior, local government intended to build a reservoir in an area designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a wildlife refuge. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the FWS did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act when it created the refuge, and so a reservoir cannot be constructed in that area. In the case of Rose Acre Farms Inc. v. the United States, an egg producer sued […]

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EPA Upholds Clean Water Act to Protect Waterways From Pesticides

Monday, April 13th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, April 13, 2009) Rebuffing the Department of Agriculture, the Justice Department announced that it will not seek rehearing of a recent significant environmental decision that enables improved protection from pesticides under the Clean Water Act. In a letter dated March 6, 2009, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack had asked EPA Administrator Jackson to request reversal of the 6th Circuit’s decision (The National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA) in January that invalidated a Bush EPA rule exempting pesticide spraying around waterways from the Clean Water Act regulations. “This decision means that EPA recognizes its responsibility to move forward with implementing the Clean Water Act, instead of trying to circumvent this bedrock public protection statute as was attempted by the Bush EPA,” stated Charlie Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law Center, who argued the case for the environmental plaintiffs. “We now look forward to working with EPA and the states to bring about meaningful changes in site specific uses of pesticides to protect our nation’s waters,” continued Mr. Tebbutt. In this same announcement, EPA stated that it will seek to continue the Bush rule for two years, despite the court ruling it illegal. “This part of the EPA’s decision is troubling,” […]

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Court Reverses Bush EPA Exemption of Pesticides Under Clean Water Act

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, January 13, 2009) In another stinging defeat for the Bush Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on January 7, 2009, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a clear rebuke of the administration’s 2006 rule which exempted certain commercial pesticide applications from the oversight provided by Congress under the Clean Water Act. [The National Cotton Council et al. v. EPA (Nos. 06-4630; 07-3180/3181/3182/3183/3184/3185/3186/3187/3191/3236). See also Headwaters, Inc. v. Talent Irrigation Dist., 243 F.3d 526, 532-33 (9th Cir. 2001).] The Court held that pesticide residuals and biological pesticides constitute pollutants under federal law and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA) in order to minimize the impact to human health and the environment. According to Beyond Pesticides, the EPA rule had allowed the weaker and more generalized standards under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to trump the more stringent CWA standards. CWA uses a kind of health-based standard known as maximum contamination levels to protect waterways and requires permits when chemicals are directly deposited into rivers, lakes and streams, while FIFRA uses a highly subjective risk assessment with no attention to the safest alternative. Read Beyond Pesticides’ press release on EPA’s 2006 decision. Several manufacturers […]

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