Right ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, when so many families are heading to their favorite waterbody to kick off the summer, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would make it easier for companies to dump pesticides into our waterways. Pesticides, which are poisons meant to kill certain organisms, are often toxic to humans and other living creatures. In addition to harming aquatic life, pesticides in drinking water—even small doses—are linked to serious health problems for humans. In some states, pesticide contamination is a major reason why some waterways are declared unsafe for drinking, fishing, and swimming.
After passing the House, this bill will now be considered by the Senate in the form of the deceptively titled “Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2017” (S.340). Perhaps better titled the “Poison our Waterways Act,” this bill would amend the Clean Water Act to allow unregulated discharges of pesticides into our nation’s waterways. It would also prevent states from making their own rules to protect waterways from pesticides. Exempting the pesticide industry from Clean Water Act permits means that companies would not need to track when they spray pesticides into water, which would keep the public in the dark, and would make it more likely that pesticides are applied excessively.
The “Poison our Waterways Act” is motivated by only one thing: the pesticide industry’s desire to remove all barriers to the application, and therefore sales, of pesticides. For more than a decade, the pesticide industry has fought to evade its responsibility for controlling the release of pesticides into waterways. In 2006, chemical industry lobbyists convinced the Environmental Protection Agency to give the pesticide industry an exemption from Clean Water Act permit requirements. Waterkeeper Alliance, several Waterkeepers, and partners brought a lawsuit that successfully overturned this exemption. The court held that the Clean Water Act requires permits for most discharges of pesticides into waterways. Ever since, the pesticide industry has been lobbying Congress to amend federal law and let them off the hook.
We are asking you to reach out to your Senators this week and ask them to oppose the Senate version of this bad pesticides bill, S.340. Don’t let our Senators give the chemical industry a free pass from the Clean Water Act!
Please call your Senator, and say:
“My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am a resident of ZIP code [ZIP CODE]. I am calling to express my concerns about Senate Bill 340. While this bill is called the “Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2017,” it would be more accurately called the “Poison our Waterways Act.” This bill would increase the chances of our waterways being poisoned by pesticides, which are widely known to be a threat to human health. I believe that requiring Clean Water Act permitting for pesticides being released into waterways is common sense and important because it helps track the release of pesticides and keeps the public informed. The current permitting process already allows for the immediate use of pesticides when needed to combat a public health risk, so there is no sensible reason to remove Clean Water Act permit requirements. I am asking you to stand up for public health, our rivers, and the environment and oppose S.340. Thank you.”
As always, your message will be even stronger if you personalize your message by telling your Senator why having safe, clean waterways free from pesticides is so important to you.
Tip: Check here to see if your Senator has cosponsored S.340. If they have, be sure to tell them how disappointed you are and urge them to change their mind.