Ag Policy Blog

Enviros Oppose Policy Rider to Eliminate Spraying Permits

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A policy rider in an appropriations bill in Congress to end permit requirements to spray pesticides on waters to control mosquitoes, is drawing the ire of nearly 150 environmental groups who fear the provision could expose waters to more chemicals.

The rider is attached to HR2577, a 2017 appropriations bill to fund military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs and related agencies, as well as to provide supplemental appropriations to combat the Zika virus.

If the bill passes with the rider attached, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies that run the permit program, could no longer require permits 180 days after the bill takes effect.

In a letter to senators Tuesday, the environmental groups urged lawmakers to oppose the bill if the rider is attached.

“On behalf of our millions of members and supporters nationwide, we urge you to oppose the inclusion of any ideological policy riders in spending legislation to address the urgent threat of Zika, including any language that undermines safeguards protecting communities from toxic pesticides in waterways,” the letter said.

The Clean Water Act pesticide general permit allows weed and algae control, animal pest control and forest canopy pest control.

“The pesticide general permit has been in place for nearly five years now and alarmist predictions by pesticide manufacturers and others about the impacts of this permit have failed to bear any fruit,” the letter said.

“Ideological riders targeting the pesticide general permit have nothing to do with – and will do nothing to address – the urgent threat of Zika. The pesticide general permit allows for spraying to combat vector-borne diseases such as Zika and the West Nile virus.”

Groups signing the letter include Earthjustice, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, American Rivers, Clean Water Action, Southern Environmental Law Center, Environment America, San Francisco Baykeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides, to name a few.

“Nearly 2,000 U.S. waterways are impaired by pesticide contamination, and many more may be polluted but have not yet been tested,” the groups write.

“To get to the bottom of and address these pesticide impairments, we need to know what is causing them. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act – the law that allows pesticides to go to market – does not require tracking of pesticides sprayed directly into waterways, putting the public at risk from not knowing that a pesticide has been sprayed, and also risking unnecessary spraying of toxic pesticides. The Clean Water Act requires tracking of direct pesticide discharges, reducing the likelihood of harming the public and cutting down on duplicative spraying.”

The legislation that has bounced around in Congress is something agricultural groups have wanted for years.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act requires spray applicators to obtain Clean Water Act permits to spray on water to combat mosquitos. Ag interests opposed the EPA rule because of concerns about the costs to comply and that the requirement would make it difficult to address immediate mosquito concerns.

The White House opposed a House bill back in May saying most mosquito-control districts, as well as federal and state agencies, already have authority to apply mosquitocides as needed to respond to the Zika virus without any additional permit.

Read the letter here: http://bit.ly/…

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN

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