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Senators introduce bill countering Clean Water decision

A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill Thursday that address a court decision that forced the Environmental Protection Agency to begin requiring Clean Water Act permits for certain applications of pesticides in or near water.

Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, are primary sponsors of the Restoring Effective Environmental Protection (REEP) Act, which is identical to a bill that passed the House in 2011. They were joined by Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both D-Del., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., James Risch, R-Idaho, Mary Landrieu, D-La., David Vitter, R-La., Mark Pryor, D-Ark. and Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

As a result of this new regulation, EPA has estimated an additional 365,000 pesticide users — including farmers, ranchers, state agencies, cities, counties, mosquito control districts, water districts, pesticide applicators, and forest managers that perform 5.6 million pesticide applications annually — will be required to obtain Clean Water Act permits, Carper and Coons said in a joint news release. This is nearly double the number of entities previously subject to permitting requirements, they added.

The bill is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cotton Council, American Soybean Association, United Fresh Produce Association, USA Rice Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, CropLife America, Mosquito Control Association, National Agricultural Aviation Association, National Water Resources Association, and Family Farm Alliance, the senators said in a news release.

There has been environmental opposition to the legislation.