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House Passes Bill to Remove EPA Restrictions On Use of Pesticides Near Water

— May 25, 2017

Republican representatives passed a measure on Wednesday that would rescind EPA restrictions on the use of pesticides near water.

The House vote ran along party lines, culminating in the passage of the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017.

Blessed with a name that might sound innocuous to the uninitiated, the bill’s sole intent is gouging part of the Clean Water Act.

Under the Clean Water Act, farmers and businessmen are made to obtain permits before being able to spray pesticides near rivers and lakes. Other EPA rules place limits on when and where agricultural protection chemicals can be used.

According to Associated Press, the “current rule was put in place after a lawsuit was filed by environmentalists and commercial fishermen,” who claimed the EPA was failing to protect bodies of water from pesticide contamination.

In 2009, a federal appeals court sided with the environmentalists and fishermen. The ruling made after the case forced the Environmental Protection Agency to issue permits to agricultural outfits seeking to use pesticides near certain, protected bodies of water.

Republican legislators tried under the Obama administration to pass a bill similar to the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. Although they trashed the proposal under threat of a presidential veto, conservative lawmakers are clearly hoping business-minded President Trump might be more receptive to their industrial agenda.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio, said the EPA’s current requirements are burdensome – the Associated Press article on the act quotes him as saying permits hinder farmers and health officials trying to fight mosquito-borne illness.

Environmental contamination with pesticides; graphic by Roy Bateman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes made.
Environmental contamination with pesticides; graphic by Roy Bateman, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes made.

He said the bill “eliminates a duplicative, expensive, unnecessary permitting process that helps free the resources of our states, counties and local governments better to combat the spread of Zika, West Nile virus and other diseases.”

Democrats – almost all of whom voted against the bill’s passage – are chocking the Republican effort up to political favoritism.

Rep. Jim Govern (D-MA) spoke on the House floor opposing the act. He suggested a connection between the legislation and a $1 million contribution by Dow Chemical to Donald Trump’s ‘inaugural festivities.’

The same article also touched on the EPA and Congress’s collaboration to revoke another Obama-era regulation on the use of the common pesticide chlorpyrifos, which Legalreader covered in March. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to brain development problems in children. Its use, as well as possible side effects, have been the subject of much debate.

“The Republicans are again bending over backward to help corporations and the wealthiest among us, while ignoring science and leaving hard-working families to suffer the consequences,” said McGovern on Wednesday. “This administration’s decisions have placed special interests and their financial contributions ahead of the health and safety of our citizens.”


EPA Backtracks on Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Ban

House Approves Bill Seeking to Upend EPA Pesticide Rule


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