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For Immediate Release, November 15, 2011

Contact: Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351,

House Republicans Attack Laws Protecting U.S. Waterways From Dangerous Pesticides

Subcommittee Hearing on Clean Water Act Regulations Biased Toward Industry

WASHINGTON— The House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade is holding a hearing Thursday on EPA regulation of pesticide use in America’s waterways. Rather than scientists or members of the public concerned about the nation’s waterways and human health, the subcommittee has stacked the hearing with industry operatives with a direct financial interest in the weakest regulations possible. The hearing is yet another attempt by House Republicans to advance a radical, anti-environmental attack on essential protections for our air, water and land.

“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 to apply pesticides to waterways to ensure the uses are reported to the EPA and to help limit 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 ongoing impacts.

EPA’s simple permitting process will have minimal impact 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.

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