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.