In a stinging defeat for the Bush Environmental Protection Agency last month, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a clear rebuke against the Administration’s 2006 rule which exempted certain commercial pesticide applications from the oversight provided by Congress under the Clean Water Act. The Court held that pesticide residuals and biological pesticides constitute pollutants under federal law and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Water Act to minimize the impact to human health and the environment. Several manufacturers and industry associations had joined the case in an attempt to broaden the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2006 exemption. The Court told them in no uncertain terms that their products are harmful to human health and the environment, and therefore EPA must regulate aquatic pesticide applications under the Clean Water Act.
With this decision, virtually all commercial pesticide applications to, over and around waterways will now require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The NPDES permits will allow for local citizen input, and provide for accountability and oversight. The permits will also require the regulatory agencies to evaluate effects on fish and wildlife from individual applications, to monitor exactly how much of a pesticide application goes into our nation’s waters, and to evaluate the cumulative impact this residual effect has on aquatic organisms.
This decision is another in a long line of rebukes to the Bush Administration policies that overstepped their statutory authority and to the chemical manufacturers who peddle their poisons without concern to the effect on human health and the environment. In my opinion, the new EPA will protect the environment rather than the chemical industry. Protecting both water quality and the public health are the EPA’s responsibility.
The organizations filing the lawsuit included Baykeeper, National Center for Conservation Science and Policy, Oregon Wild, Saint John’s Organic Farm, Californians for Alternatives to Toxics, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Waterkeeper Alliance, Environment Maine, Toxics Action Center, Peconic Baykeeper and Soundkeeper. The organizations were represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, the National Environmental Law Center, the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic and Waterkeeper Alliance.
Source: Western Environmental Law Center
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