Senate Agriculture Committee Passes House Pesticides Bill
June 23rd, 2011
On Tuesday, June 21, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted favorably on the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872). The bill will now go to the full Senate for a floor vote. Although the bill passed the Committee by a voice vote, Democrats on the Agriculture Committee and others have stated publicly that a floor vote on the bill wouldn’t be as easy.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked the Agriculture Committee to record their “nay” votes in the record.
Members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, including Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and member Ben Cardin (D-MD) have also raised concern about the bill. Even though the bill clearly has environmental implications, it was not reviewed by the Environment and Public Works Committee.
As reported by Energy & Environment Daily, Boxer stated that the Senate is “not ready to pass a bill like that or anything close to it.” Cardin raised similar issues, noting that it should “receive full and careful consideration through the regular legislative process.”
NSAC last reported on this bill in a blog post on April 1, 2011, when the bill passed on the floor of the House of Representatives by a vote of 292 to 130.
H.R. 872 would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from requiring entities to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Eliminations System (NPDES) permit for the application of pesticides near navigable waters, so long as they are already registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
The bill, offered by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), was offered in response to a 2009 court case, National Cotton Council v. EPA, in which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements ought to apply to farmers who are applying pesticides in or near waterways. The ruling is set to go into effect October 31, 2011.
Please visit the April 1 blog post for more detailed information about this bill. For more on the important different purposes and requirements of FIFRA and the CWA, see this fact sheet from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). NRDC’s Mae Wu had this to say in reaction to the Committee vote:
“As feared, today the Senate Agriculture Committee sided with the pesticide industry and against our health and the health of our waters by eliminating all Clean Water Act protections of our rivers, lakes and streams against pesticide pollution. To add insult to injury, the Committee made this damaging decision without a single hearing or public conversation. Not only have the members scoffed at our health and our environment, they have done so without letting democracy play itself out in the light of day.”