Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

HR872 Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act is a Bad Bill

A new bill would amend both FIFRA and the Clean Water Act to clarify congressional intent and eliminate the requirements of a Clean Water Act permit for the use of FIFRA-registered pesticides.

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) praised efforts by a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives to eliminate the possibility of costly and duplicative pesticide permitting requirements that are a result of a misguided decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in National Cotton Council v. EPA.

The 2009 Sixth Circuit court decision, in response to the National Cotton Council v. EPA, overturned the Bush Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule exempting commercial pesticide applications from the oversight provided under CWA. The decision requires NPDES permits for pesticide applications directly to or near waterways in order to reduce and eventually eliminate pollutants in the natural environment. 

Alabama Representative Martha Roby is a co-sponsor for this bill and has taken her support to YouTube because it works in favor of Big Ag and the Timber industry, the two biggest supporters and money machines for the bill to our lawmakers in an attempt to influence them to undo the decision of the Sixth Circuit Court. 

This bill was introduced by Bob Gibbs--R whose top two contributors are the mining and oil and gas industry. Two industries that are the antithesis to farming wouldn't you agree?

Who else in Alabama is supporting the bill and for how much?
Representative Mike Rogers--R  -AL 3     $32,100
Representative Spencer Bachus--R--AL 6     $12,500
Representative Roger Aderholt--R--AL 4     $9,000
Representative Jo Bonner--AL 1     $24,950
Representative Mo Brooks--R--AL 5     $1,250
Representative Mike D. Rogers--R--AL 3     $42,600
Representative Martha Roby--R--AL 2     $3,250
Representative Terri Sewell--D--AL 7     $12,400

 Here's Roby in "her own words"

And from a recent weekly column to RickyStokesNews.com:
Once our small businesses are free from the threats of tax increases and federal regulations, they will be unleashed to grow and create jobs. I talked about federal regulations with members of the Alabama Farmer’s Association this week while they were in Washington for their annual conference. I explained that our federal government is overzealous with their regulatory authority. The EPA is a top example of federal agencies run amok, as evidenced by the long laundry list of regulations that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was questioned about at an Agriculture Committee hearing.
I told members of ALFA that farmers and other businesses owners create jobs, and that I will fight hard to reduce government regulations that stand in their way. The quicker that we can get the government to stop regulating our small business owners and our farmers, the quicker we can get our country back on track. 
She uses a catch phrase that is designed to resonate; "our farmers just want to farm" but she leaves out a few things. Much of the farming in the US today is heavily subsidized by the federal government, the same government that has helped kill our small family farms. This bill is not about "small business" by any stretch of the imagination Ms. Roby, that's disingenuous on its face.

Small farmers are everyday people trying to hold onto to their smaller operations. The average Joe if you will, who probably goes to church every Sunday and is conservative politically.

Ms. Roby claims in her column that she is "fighting for conservative values." By caving to the interests of Big Ag, who has been the other destructor of small farmers, is she picking and choosing which conservatives she is "fighting" for?

Back to the subsidizing for a moment, Big Ag is a big benefactor of federal money, so they are upset now that they have to spend some of their federal handout and give it back to the government? They have to be careful and make sure they aren't polluting our watersheds in following the Sixth Circuit Court decision? Where's the problem? Oh, that's right, it's about the federal handout isn't it? And being judicious with pesticides.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the ruling will affect nearly 365,000 pesticide applicators nationwide and cost $50 million a year to implement. Conner said that the while the impacts of the new requirements will be severe, there is little evidence that they will provide any identifiable environmental benefit.
Conner also noted that EPA has just today requested an extension of the April 9th deadline from the Sixth Circuit Court. “With less than a month to go before the deadline, it is good that the EPA has finally realized that more time will be needed,” said Conner. “We hope the Court grants this request and that Congress will use the added time to clarify the law and ensure a more common sense approach to pesticide regulation.”
Note the $50 million figure. That is not a cost to the federal government according to the CBO document, that's an estimated figure of costs to Big Ag Conner has come up with to fire supporters up to support the bill.  As for the "no identifiable environmental benefit" he claims, what is he basing that on? Is he trying to suggest that lax regulations are of an environmental benefit? We are talking about pesticides here. Poisons. Toxins.

We can tell you where his claim did not come from, the EPA, because we checked with the pesticides and water divisions. His claims were not found to have merit by the Sixth District Court, who realized there is a threat to the environment and these chemicals should be regulated under the CWA.

So it's all wordsmithing and spin isn't it?

And just to make you all feel better next time you munch on a bag of peanuts or popcorn, farmers in Georgia, Alabama and Florida have been spreading coal ash FGD Gypsum from power plants on their croplands for thirty years. Cancer rates in all three states are elevated. Is there a connection? We can't say for sure because there are already so many carcinogens filling the air in the Southeast from coal-fired power plants. But it can't be a good idea.

Thirty years. Mind-boggling and in place because of the utility and coal industries. The EPA touts the "beneficial use for agricultural applications" but admits, along with the USDA "more research is needed to ascertain the long-term risks of agricultural application."

Wouldn't it have made more sense to fully know before you acted?

Maybe that's why the EPA is revisiting the issue and doing more testing after the Kingston spill, but this falls into the heel dragging of coal ash regulation despite responses exceeding half a million to the federal agency to classify it as toxic.

Big Ag and Big Coal are not for us. They never have been, never will be. They're not for the small farmer either. We support our small farmers, not the industrialized operations. In our opinions, Martha Roby and company are looking out for big business and not the family farmer. She's pandering, along with all the other political supporters to the big money crowd and forgetting that she is supposed to represent all of her constituents equally. 

This bill is not a solution, it's a problem, it's a way to skirt responsibility and not be held accountable for harming our watersheds. It's for Big Ag not the average farmer. We're firmly against it and urge you to contact your representatives in all states who are acting as cosponsors of this bill.

Here's your link to the list, scroll down to the representatives names and let them know where you stand. The bill is on a fast track, EPA regulations are due to be implemented on April 9th.

Additional link to take action: Beyond Pesticides Daily News
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  1. ALFA is in on this bill. Shock.
    There is nothing farmer like about them anymore. They pushed for an Ag commissioner who the head of the Alabama Surface Mining Commission, one of their lobbyists was trying to lure legislators away from the floor and onto a lobbyist put on party during the last special session and they are against Forever Wild.
    And by the way, you have to pay a thirty dollar membership fee to have insurance with them, which they promptly turn around and spend on lobbying few regular folks would agree with if they knew.
    That organization needs a rename!

  2. Why is it legal to buy our politicians votes?
    Why do special interests and lobbyists get all access passes to lawmakers?
    Why don't more people even care?

  3. News flash righty tighties: clean water, air and corporate responsibility are not bad words.
    Unless you guys get a hold of them and twist them beyond recognition.

  4. Roby is a climber trying to make a name for herself, but her dollar amount is among the lowest. Future promises have likely been made to her to be the face in Alabama to ALFA for the bill.
    Rogers and Bonner are your big dogs here, primarily Rogers who got an additional 10.5 K, which is telling.
    These numbers are probably higher than what is recorded so far. Bachus enjoys lots of extra loot from numerous sources, so his pay off is a wet my beak sort.
    ALFA makes and breaks people and they want this bill passed. It's troubling that what the R's accuse the D's of is happening in reverse: court rules one way so let's craft legislation to undo the legal ruling.

  5. You make an interesting point about reverse strong-arming BarT.

  6. “Regulations kill jobs.” Congressional Republicans are using this whopper to justify their attempts to defund regulatory agencies. Regulations whose costs to business exceed their benefits to the public are unwarranted, of course, but reasonable regulation is necessary to avoid everything from nuclear meltdowns to oil spills to mine disasters to food contamination – all of which we’ve sadly witnessed.

    From AlterNet Robert Reich writing. He adds a wonderful quote from George Orwell:

    And if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became the truth. – George Orwell, 1984 (published in 1949)

    I don't always agree with Reich, but he's 100% correct on this.

  7. Big Ag through ALFA among others wants Alabama's Forever Wild program gutted.
    Better pay attention folks.

  8. Ready for a dissenting view? The only argument you really post against HR 872 is that it's pro Ag and Business. While you're right, this is one case where business has a good point. I've followed the implications for the Circuit Court ruling for the past year or so, and cannot figure out how requiring permits for pesticide applications is going to improve the environment. The $50 million price tag doesn't even fairly represent the lost man hours that will go into filing the necessary paperwork for the court mandate. EPA didn't want the court ruling. States, cities and parks don't want the new paperwork demanded by the 6th Circuit Court, and apparently farmers don't either. I have been an environmental advocate for many years, but implementing the expanded NPDES requirements will not stop many pesticide applications, or make them safer. It will, however, slow down necessary public health actions (for mosquito control) and cost municipal governments a lot of time and red tape. This is not the rap that environmentalists, trying to win over the American public, want. If you love the environment, put your effort into something that will actually improve the environment, not merely create ill will.


    Thanks for your input.

    With all due respect sir, the terms “environmentalist” and “Monsanto” are oxymoronic. If there’s any "ill will" being spread it’s not from us, it’s from your generous benefactor Monsanto.

    Texas A&M and the AG Extension are tightly woven with Monsanto. In fact, you had a recent cooperative conference in Gaylord, Texas with Monsanto isn’t that right sir?

    Texas A&M is the recipient of numerous endowments from Monsanto and many of you adhere to the “Monsanto pledge” designed to ‘dedicate resources and share information that will bring advanced knowledge, practices and products to the people who need them most’ has made a significant impact to small-scale farmers in Africa.” It’s had an impact alright, but the reality is a bit different than what Texas A&M and Monsanto describe:

    Monsanto has already negatively impacted agriculture in African countries. For example, in South Africa in 2009, Monsanto's genetically modified maize failed to produce kernels and hundreds of farmers were devastated. According to Mariam Mayet, environmental attorney and director of the Africa Centre for Biosafety in Johannesburg, some farmers suffered up to an 80 per cent crop failure. While Monsanto compensated the large-scale farmers to whom it directly sold the faulty product, it gave nothing to the small-scale farmers to whom it had handed out free sachets of seeds. 'When the economic power of Gates is coupled with the irresponsibility of Monsanto, the outlook for African smallholders is not very promising,' said Mayet. Monsanto's aggressive patenting practices have also monopolised control over seed in ways that deny farmers control over their own harvest, going so far as to sue - and bankrupt - farmers for 'patent infringement.'

    Your institution talks about Monsanto in such glowing terms one could hardly view anything you might say as unbiased and not in lockstep with the corporate agenda of Monsanto.

    Nice try though.



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