This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives began debate on a Farm Bill (H.R. 2) loaded with anti-environmental provisions. John Rumpler, Environment America’s senior attorney and clean water program director, issued the following statement:
Today, Congress is considering a bill that would allow polluters to dump toxic pesticides into our rivers, and undermine other environmental laws. Pesticides have contributed to more than 1,800 instances of water pollution across the country. Yet part of today’s Farm Bill that’s basically a “poisoned waters” provision would exempt pesticide pollution from the Clean Water Act.
The Farm Bill should foster food security and rural development. Instead, the bill being debated on the House floor today is loaded with attacks on clean water, sustainable farming, and conservation. Other harmful anti-environmental provisions in the H.R. 2 include:
Eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program, the nation’s largest conservation program by acreage.
Pre-empting state and local laws to protect health and the environment.
Severely undermining vital bedrock environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act.
Eliminating public input and environmental review for a wide range of activities on public lands.
Several amendments could make this already-questionable Farm Bill even worse. Two separate amendments — offered by Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA) and Paul Gosar (AZ), and by Rep. Jim Banks (IN) — would wipe out Clean Water Act protections for half of our nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands.
In addition, an amendment by Rep. Don Young (AK) would allow destructive mining, drilling, and roadbuilding in our national forests in Alaska. The Tongass National Forest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world. It’s a land of ancient trees, with space for black and brown bears, wolves, bald eagles, moose, deer, and other wildlife to live and roam free. Exempting such forests from the existing “roadless rule” would permanently mar America’s natural heritage.
The notion that we should poison our water and land to grow our food is unconscionable. We’re calling on Congress to reject these rollbacks and start over with a Farm Bill that promotes both healthy food and clean water.