WASHINGTON— The pesticide industry is planning a sneak attack on water quality by attaching a toxic pesticide bill to the unrelated Senate farm bill. The pesticide lobby wants to rewrite the Clean Water Act by pushing House Resolution 872 to allow unregulated pesticide applications directly into U.S. waterways. Attaching this poison pill to the unrelated Farm Bill will create controversy and bog down the farm bill.
“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.”
Clean Water Act regulations require a simple, routine permit for those applying pesticides to waterways, both to ensure the uses are reported to the EPA and to help limit chemical exposure for impaired waterways and sensitive wildlife. The permits carry a minimal burden while protecting human health and the environment from toxics.
Two billion pounds of pesticides are sold each year for use in the United States, with long-term persistence that hurts both wildlife and humans. The U.S. Geological Survey 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 fishes, amphibians and birds. Pesticides are disastrous for endangered aquatic species already facing extinction.
“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 impacts.
EPA’s simple permitting process has minimal impacts 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.