Todd Rokita on Environment
Congressional Summary:Amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to exclude manure from the definition of "hazardous substance" and "pollutant or contaminant" for purposes of such Act. Defines "manure" to mean:
Opponent's Comments (Jim Ruen on AgProfessional.com, Oct. 3, 2011): Since when can a fertilizer dealer operate without concern for environmental regulation and impact? Let's face it, we aren't talking about Ma and Pa Kettle with their six milk cows and three sows here spreading a load of manure on the back 40. We are talking about CAFO units with thousands of animals and tens of thousands or more tons/gallons of manure. While a few maybe spreading on their own land, most are selling it to area farmers. At a time when fertilizer dealers and companies have to be conspicuously careful with how they handle product, why shouldn't mega-livestock operators be equally regulated as they sell their "waste" product for its nutrient and soil building value. Since when do commercial N, P and K producers or handlers get a free ride from the EPA...or Congress?
Congressional Summary:Amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to prohibit the EPA or a state from requiring a permit for a discharge into navigable waters of a pesticide authorized under FIFRA. Excepts stormwater discharges and discharges of manufacturing or industrial effluent.
Proponent's argument for bill:(Blue Ridge Times-News, April 2013): Sen. Kay Hagan announced a bill to eliminate a "redundant and burdensome" requirement that 365,000 pesticide users get a CWA permit before spraying in or near lakes and streams. Farmers and other chemical users already have to meet stringent requirements for pesticide application under FIFRA, Hagan said, and the CWA permit only adds a duplicative, unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. Hagan said the "overlapping regulations" have also forced some municipalities to cut down on spraying for mosquitoes "because they don't have the manpower (to deal with the extra red tape), and they fear lawsuits."
Opponent's argument against bill: (Oregon Sierra Club newsletter Dec. 2012): Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" turned 50 this fall: it catalyzed the environmental movement [by focusing on pesticides like DDT]. Today we still face the issues she outlined in Silent Spring. Pesticide law and regulation in the US is a case study in corporate capture: beholden to the farm lobby in Congress, all the way back to the 1947 formation of FIFRA.
FACT: From 1988 to 1995, more than 65 bills were introduced in Congress to tighten pesticide regulations. None of them passed.
FACT: In the late 1990s, two separate investigations revealed that more than half of all former top-level pesticide regulators at the EPA subsequently went to work for, or were paid by, pesticide and chemical industry interests actively involved in fighting EPA efforts to protect the public from pesticides.
Congressional bill text:
A BILL to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify when the Administrator of the EPA has the authority to prohibit or restrict the specification of a defined area as a disposal site
Argument in opposition: (by Trout Unlimited, tu.org, July 15, 2014)
Trout Unlimited and anglers across America strongly oppose the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's ill-conceived markup of HR 4854, because the bill would prevent the EPA from protecting the world class fisheries of Bristol Bay, Alaska.
The poorly conceived bill has had no legislative hearings. The oversight hearing will have no Alaskan witnesses from Bristol Bay, the people most adversely affected by this bill.
The Bristol Bay region of Alaska is threatened by one of the most potentially damaging mines ever proposed. EPA has moved forward with a science-based, inclusive, transparent process, which, if implemented, should protect headwaters of an area that sees an annual run of 40 million salmon. The Bristol Bay fishery is worth in excess of $1.5 billion per year.
The committee plans to give Pebble Limited Partnership, [the mine owners], a gift-wrapped present, HR 4854, rewarding its many failures to produce a viable mining plan.
Argument in opposition: (by Rep. Bishop, D-NY-1)
The enactment of H.R. 5078 would, unfortunately, lock in place the interpretive guidance of the Bush administration: traditional Clean Water Act protections over a significant percentage of waters has been called into question or have simply been lost. These are protections that existed for over 30 years prior to the issuance of the first Bush-era guidance in 2003 and are now all but lost, making it harder and more costly for individual States to protect their own waters should their upstream neighbors be unwilling or unable to fill in the gap in protecting water quality.
Pollution needs to go somewhere, and since pollution does not respect State boundaries when it travels downstream, it will have an adverse impact on the quality of life and the quality of the environment of those downstream States. Under H.R. 5078, the EPA would be prohibited from ensuring that polluters in Connecticut continue to reduce excessive amounts of nitrogen in the Sound, leaving my constituents in the State of New York without any recourse to stop them.
A BILL to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods.
Cato Institute recommendation on voting YES: President Obama quietly signed legislation requiring special labeling for commercial foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)--plants and animals with desirable genetic traits that were directly implanted in a laboratory. Most of the foods that humans & animals have consumed for millennia have been genetically modified, by cross-fertilization. Yet the new law targets only the highly precise gene manipulations done in laboratories. Anti-GMO activists oppose the new law because it preempts more rigorous regulation. And that's exactly the goal of this bill, to the frustration of the anti-GMO crowd.
JustLabelit.org recommendation on voting NO (because not restrictive enough): Senators Roberts (R-KS) and Stabenow (D-MI) introduced a compromise bill that would create a mandatory, national labeling standard for GMO foods. This bill falls short of what consumers expect--a simple at-a-glance disclosure on the package. As written, this compromise might not even apply to ingredients derived from GMO soybeans and GMO sugar beets. We in the consumer rights community have dubbed this the "Deny Americans the Right-to-Know" Act (DARK Act). We need to continue pressing for mandatory GMO labeling on the package.
Heritage Foundation recommendation on voting NO (because too restrictive): The House should allow [states, at their choice,] to impose [a more] restrictive labeling mandate, but prohibit the state from regulating out-of-state food manufacturers engaged in interstate commerce. Instituting a new, sweeping, federal mandate that isn't based on proven science shouldn't even be an option.
Legislative outcome: Passed by the Senate on July 7th, passed by the House on July 14th; signed by the President on July 29th
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Senate Votes (analysis)
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