Colorado: Tipton says pesticides in your drinking water are acceptable, as House GOP aims to weaken Clean Water Act

This map shows areas where levels of pesticide-related compounds are reaching thresholds that are dangerous to fish. Interestingly, most of the witnesses who testified against EPA pesticide regulations are from these same areas.

House Republicans attack EPA’s ability to protect water from poisonous chemicals

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The environmental wars continue in Congress, as House Republicans continued to press their extremist agenda by attacking the EPA’s ability to regulate pesticides in the country’s lakes, rivers and streams.

On this go-round, the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade invited a panel full of industry representatives with a direct financial interest in the weakest regulations possible to testify during a hearing on the EPA regs. You can see the witness list and read the testimony at the subcommittee’s website.

One of the ringleaders is Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton, who just a couple of days previously showed his fundamental lack of knowledge on water issues by accusing the Forest Service of “takings” with regard to water that’s actually owned by the people of the United States.

In the latest hearing, Tipton claimed the pesticide permitting process is hurting small agricultural businesses, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the large agribusinesses and chemical companies who are lobbying to ease restrictions on pesticides.

“The last thing small agriculture businesses need is more regulations,” Tipton said in a release. “And certainly not costly regulations that are duplicative and bring no added environmental protection, such as the NPDES permit requirement for pesticide applications.” Click here to visit the EPA’s website on the permit program.

“We can’t sacrifice human health and the environment to pesticide-industry profits,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Clean Water Act can help stem the toxic tide of pesticides in our waters, and it’s wrong for special interests to interfere with that protection.”

Two billion pounds of pesticides are sold each year for use in the United States. They persist for a long time in the environment harmful to both wildlife and humans.

U.S. Geological Survey studies found that more than 90 percent of U.S. waters and fish tested across the country are contaminated with pesticides; the result is a major loss of fish, amphibians and birds. Pesticides are disastrous for endangered aquatic species already facing extinction. Visit this USGS web page for extensive information on pesticide pollution.

Clean Water Act regulations require a simple, routine permit to apply pesticides to waterways to ensure the uses are reported to the EPA and to help limit exposure for impaired waterways and sensitive wildlife. The permits carry a minimal burden while protecting human health and the environment from toxics.

“The Clean Water Act has been working for more than 30 years to protect our waterways and wildlife,” said Snape. “Industry’s poison pill has to be rejected.”

Many approved pesticides are linked to higher cancer rates, hormone disruption and other human-health problems. Pesticides are a major source of occupational injury and illness for farm workers, and new research indicates that the effects can cascade down to offspring, hurting future generations as well. Reducing pesticide use in waterways will help prevent these ongoing impacts.

EPA’s simple permitting process will have minimal impact on family farmers. The permit does not apply to land-based pesticide applications, and the cost of a permit is minuscule when compared to the benefits of protecting water quality, wildlife and health.

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5 Responses

  1. With all due respect, perhaps Mr. Tipton should be fed the same water that he says is O.K. to drink, i.e. the [pesticides] laced brand. In fact, his whole family should be included. Of course, that will never happen. It’s a sad state of affairs that the Republicans have chosen to compromise the values of good stewardship for money. Our Political system has to change before the country is completely poisoned.

  2. THIS is pure pandering and a scientific lie. How do I know? Because I am a Boulder-based environmental scientist, and it is my business to know.

    These “pesticides” are no more hazardous than the infinitesimal amounts of estrogen and birth control hormones in your body from people dumping them down the drain in Denver.

    To claim otherwise is the same claim that “herbologists” make – that clinically ineffective amounts of some “natural” substance will cure what ails you (unlike pharmacologically active amounts that won’t). In other words, this “story” is the scientific equivalent of quakery.

    Sad sad sad – but routinely touted by the ignorant among eniro-wacko True Believers.

    • Thanks for your comment. I think there is a pretty good body of scientific evidence that, cumulatively, various types of pollution, including pesticides, are having a subtle but frightening impact on many organisms, from fish in the St. Lawrence Seaway, to sea turtles, to dolphins in the coastal waters of the Southeast with high levels of PCBs in their blood and tissue.

      • I think 0rson2 needs to take the classes to become a Certified Operator from the colorado Department of Agriculture! Then he will be more informed. I have said license, and I think this article is spot on!

        • I’m w/ Ken and Bob. Mr Orson2 should probably read his trade mags a bit more closely. Those “infinitesimal amounts of estrogen” are directly contibuting to increases in hermaphroditic fish populations (you should know this Mr Orson…one of the primary examples is just below Boulder’s WWTP), the reduction in fecundity in multiple aquatic species and loss of diversity in streams. And while it may be defensible to say that human health is not at the top of the scale in terms of threats, the true long-term impacts of human consumption of pesticides has yet to be fully realized. A quick look at the dead zone in the Mississippi delta should provide enough proof that pesticides and nutrients are a very serious problem. And who is Tipton to be ignorantly weighing in? Tipton is an idiot.

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