Last week we alerted readers to behind-the-scenes lobbying in Congress that would strip pesticide protections from our nation's stongest environmental laws. On Tuesday, June 21st, the Senate Agriculture Committee quietly approved legislation to exempt pesticide applications from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act — with no notice, and no press.
The bill, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872) would reverse a 2009 court order requiring the permits as a part of the National Pollutant Discharge System (NPDES). Instead, pesticides would remain subject only to the much weaker statute under which most pesticides are regulated, the Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). H.R. 872 has already passed in the House of Representatives.
While industry has successfully gotten such bills through the House in the past, they typically die in the Senate because the committee who appropriately holds jurisdiction over water pollution issues (Environment and Public Works) declines to move on these anti-environmental pieces of legislation. For reasons unknown, the bill was assigned this time to the Senate Ag committee.
Out of the eight committee members who voted, two opposed the bill: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY). If you are from Vermont or New York, we encourage you to thank Senators Leahy and Gillibrand.
The bill, which already passed the House, now goes to the Senate Floor for a vote. PAN joins allies from around the country in urging our membership to take immediate action.
This bill would eliminate critical tools that keep toxic pesticides from polluting our waterways. For a detailed analysis of the bill and its potential impacts, see NRDC and the Clean Water Network's posts.
Then, call your Senators. Friendly Hill staffers in DC tell us they've been bombarded with communications from industry-sponsored proponents of the bill, but have heard very little from citizens who would keep our nation's environmental laws intact.
Take Action » Please call your Senators this week or next. Tell them that quietly exempting pesticides from our nation’s strongest environmental laws is unacceptable. Even if you called last week, calling again now that the bill is past committee, would be OK — and powerful. One phone call from a constituent is worth dozens of emails.
Source: Keeping Our Waters Safe, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)