House votes to roll back pesticide restrictions

House votes to roll back pesticide restrictions
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The House passed legislation on Wednesday to loosen federal regulations on pesticides in a 256-165 vote.

Rep. Bob Gibbs’ (R-Ohio) bill would reverse a 2009 court decision that requires pesticides secure two separate Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approvals before hitting the market. 

“This adds compliance costs, it adds permitting costs and it adds time and it hurts productivity and efficiency, and it does not add any new environmental protections,” Gibbs said during floor debate on his bill on Wednesday. He called the court ruling a “bad decision.”

Under the bill, a pesticide that the EPA has already approved under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) would no longer need a Clean Water Act permit before going public.

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Twenty-five Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Most Democrats, though, opposed the bill on public health grounds, saying the legislation would fast track permitting decisions for potentially-dangerous pesticides, putting water quality at risk. 

“I am worried about the impact these pesticides have on the health of our rivers, our streams, especially the drinking water supplies for all our citizens and especially the most vulnerable,” Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) said. 

Gibbs and Republicans have worked to pass similar pesticide bills every session since the 2009 decision. 

Last year, Republicans rebranded Gibbs’ bill from the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act” to the “Zika Vector Control Act” as a way to entice support for the legislation during the Zika crisis.

Democrats called that political opportunism. On Wednesday, Republicans argued Democrats oppose regulatory reform that could help manufacturers and farmers.

“Some of my colleagues on the other side have called this Groundhog Day in the past,” Gibbs said. 

“I agree. Time after time, they have supported increasing the regulations just for the regulation’s sake.”