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Senate Committee Clears Pesticide Bill

by Britt E. Erickson
July 4, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 27

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee has approved a bill that would eliminate a 2009 court-ordered requirement that pesticide applicators obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) when spraying in or near U.S. waters. The same bill, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (H.R. 872), passed the House in March (C&EN, March 14, page 30). The legislation would eliminate the need for such permits, which will be required beginning on Oct. 31 unless lawmakers act swiftly. The court decision has been controversial since it was made. Industry groups and EPA claim that CWA permits for pesticides are duplicative because aquatic effects are already considered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act. Environmental groups and some Democrats in Congress, however, argue that EPA’s standard for assessing aquatic effects of pesticides under FIFRA is insufficient to protect wildlife and possibly humans from harm. The bill is now on hold because Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, has used a procedural motion to prevent it from reaching the Senate floor for a vote until further deliberations occur.


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