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Mae Wu’s Blog

Fishers, Hunters, and Swimmers: This One's For You!

Mae Wu

Posted June 8, 2012 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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Gone Fishin'

 (Photo by Flickr user JFXie)

For everyone who either enjoys fishing, or hunting, or swimming at the local watering hole, or even just drinking clean water, be aware. Right now, some senators are trying to make those activities a bit more difficult and even a bit more dangerous.

Just yesterday, Senator Johanns (R-NE) submitted an amendment to the Farm Bill to allow pesticide applicators to poison our waters with impunity. His amendment (identical to the one I’ve mentioned before here and here and here) would eliminate all protections of our waterways from pesticide contamination under the Clean Water Act, and the Senate could be voting on it any day. If the amendment passes, it means that someone can spray a pesticide directly into any waterbody and kill all the fish, or hurt nearby deer, or make it impossible to swim in it – and you can’t do anything about it.

Right now, under the Clean Water Act, you can use pesticides in water bodies to control pests, you just have to do it safely.  Supporters of this amendment just want to eliminate the safety part of it. So who are they trying to protect?

Not farmers. Agriculture is already exempted from the Clean Water Act.

Not public health. Currently, public health departments can spray for mosquitos and other pests to protect public health from West Nile and other outbreaks.

Not our pocketbooks. More pesticides in our source water mean drinking water utilities have to spend more money to remove these toxins from our tap water. That added cost has to be paid by taxpayers or by customers – that is, you and me.

Who's left? The big chemical companies who want to sell more of their toxic products.

These are the very lakes, rivers, and streams we swim and fish in, or hunt around, or get our drinking water from. Of course we want to control pests in these waterbodies, but we want it to be done safely. Don’t we all deserve that?

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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