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Water Quality Protections: Circling and/or Down the Drain

Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017  On Wednesday 5/24/2017, the U. S. House of Representatives passed H. R 953, a.k.a. the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017.”  The bill would do away with a requirement under the Clean Water Act for obtaining a “general permit” for the use of pesticides approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The bill passed by a vote of 256-165, with all representatives from the Chattooga River watershed voting for the bill.  Opponents of this bill argue that permits for the use of pesticides help track where the heaviest pesticide use occurs, and that information is critical for targeting efforts to prevent pesticide contamination.

The debate and subsequent vote to approve H. R. 953 was preceded with a vote by the House of Representatives on 5/22/17 to pass H. Res. 348, “Providing for consideration of the bill [H. R. 953] to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters, and for other purposes” (source:

Currently, there are almost 2,000 waterways in the U. S. that do not meet water quality standards because of contamination from pesticides (source:  H.R. 954 will make it harder to identify pesticide use that may have caused the contamination of these waters.

The bill has been sent to the Senate, read twice, and has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.  Now is the time to call our senators and tell them to stop this bill that threatens our lakes, rivers and streams.

Senators representing the Chattooga River watershed area:

Lindsey Graham R-SC  (202) 224-5972 Tim Scott R-SC  (202) 224-6121

Johnny Isakson R-GA  (202) 224-3643 David Perdue  R-GA  (202) 224-3521

Richard Burr R-NC  (202) 224-3154 Thom Tillis  R-NC  (202) 224-6342

Resource for senator contact info:

Stream Protection Rule Repealed  On February 16, 2017, President Trump signed the repeal of the Stream Protection Rule.  This rule said that coal mining companies could not dump rubble from mountaintop removal mines into adjacent valleys, which oftentimes leads to pollution of rivers and streams with dangerous heavy metals like selenium, mercury, and arsenic.  The Stream Protection Rule also established a 100-foot buffer around streams for protecting water quality and preserving native species, and also called for restoration of streams damaged by mountaintop removal and other surface mining projects.  With the repeal of the Stream Protection Rule, coal companies’ profits will be preserved, and communities will now be saddled with the damaging environmental effects and potential contamination of their recreational and drinking water sources.