House Ap­proves Bill to Elim­i­nate Clean Wa­ter Act Pes­ti­cide Pro­tec­tions

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The cor­po­rate war on Amer­ica con­tin­ues as the cor­rupt U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed leg­is­la­tion re­cently that would elim­i­nate crit­i­cal Clean Wa­ter Act safe­guards, al­low­ing more toxic pes­ti­cides to be sprayed di­rectly into streams, lakes, rivers and drink­ing wa­ter sup­plies.

If en­acted into law, H.R. 953 would strip away com­mon-sense mea­sures in place since 2011 re­quir­ing straight­for­ward En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency per­mits to spray pes­ti­cides di­rectly into wa­ter for mos­quito-control ac­tiv­i­ties, weed and al­gae control, and for­est-canopy pest control.

“A day af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bud­get pro­posed evis­cer­at­ing the EPA, the House voted to be­gin mak­ing that vi­sion a re­al­ity,” said Brett Hartl at the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Diver­sity. “This dan­ger­ous loop­hole would ben­e­fit pes­ti­cide giants like Dow Chem­i­cal and leave the rest of us to­tally un­aware of toxic chem­i­cals go­ing into our rivers and lakes.”

H.R. 953 elim­i­nates the EPA’S Pes­ti­cide Gen­eral Per­mit, which re­quires a per­mit be­fore spray­ing a pes­ti­cide di­rectly into wa­ter. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of pes­ti­cide ap­pli­ca­tors may ap­ply for a gen­eral per­mit with very few re­stric­tions on spray­ing, while only the largest-vol­ume ap­pli­ca­tors must re­ceive an in­di­vid­ual per­mit. Ex­emp­tions to the per­mit re­quire­ment are avail­able for hu­man-health emer­gen­cies. No per­mit un­der the Clean Wa­ter Act is re­quired for nor­mal farm­ing op­er­a­tions.

Since 2011 the pes­ti­cide lobby has re­peat­edly pushed to elim­i­nate the per­mit. In the last Congress an iden­ti­cal bill was re­named the “Zika Vec­tor Control Act” in the hopes of us­ing the pub­lic-health emer­gency as a scare tac­tic to en­act the leg­is­la­tion into law.

Alarmist pre­dic­tions by pes­ti­cide man­u­fac­tur­ers and oth­ers have failed to demon­strate any sig­nif­i­cant bur­dens or prob­lems in the per­mit’s im­ple­men­ta­tion. In tes­ti­mony be­fore Congress, the EPA stated: “We have not been made aware of any is­sues associated with the Pes­ti­cide Gen­eral Per­mit. No­body has brought an in­stance to our at­ten­tion where some­body has not been able to ap­ply a pes­ti­cide in a timely man­ner . . . [t]here have been no in­stances. We’ve been get­ting very good data.”

“Keep­ing Amer­i­cans in the dark about where, when and which pes­ti­cides are sprayed into our wa­ters may ben­e­fit large cor­po­ra­tions and other spe­cial in­ter­ests, but it’s not in the in­ter­est of our fam­i­lies or our en­vi­ron­ment,” said Hartl. “With more than 1,000 lakes and rivers in the United States al­ready pol­luted by pes­ti­cides, we should be strength­en­ing Clean Wa­ter Act pro­tec­tions, not elim­i­nat­ing them.”

Photo by Stephane Mignon, CC

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