Conservationists Applaud EPA Decision to Not Seek Reversal of Victory Protecting Local Water Supplies, Fisheries &Wildlife

For Immediate Release

Western Environmental Law Center
Contact: 

Charlie Tebbutt, Western Environmental Law Center, 541-485-2471 ext 110, tebbutt@westernlaw.org
Charles Caldart, National Environmental Law Center, 206-568-2853, cccnelc@aol.com
Scott Edwards, Waterkeeper Alliance 914.674.0622, x13

Conservationists Applaud EPA Decision to Not Seek Reversal of Victory Protecting Local Water Supplies, Fisheries &Wildlife

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack asked the EPA to seek reversal of a decision that ended the Bush rule exempting pesticide applications near waterways from Clean Water Act protections.

WASHINGTON - Rebuffing the Department of
Agriculture, the Justice Department today announced that it will not seek
rehearing of a recent significant environmental decision. In a letter dated
March 6, 2009, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack had asked EPA Administrator
Jackson to request reversal of the 6th Circuit's decision in
January that invalidated a Bush EPA rule exempting pesticide spraying around
waterways from the Clean Water Act regulations.

"This decision means that EPA recognizes its
responsibility to move forward with implementing the Clean Water Act, instead
of trying to circumvent this bedrock public protection statute as was attempted
by the Bush EPA", stated Charlie Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law
Center, who argued the case for the environmental challengers.  "We
now look forward to working with EPA and the states to bring about meaningful
changes in site specific uses of pesticides to protect our nation's
waters" continued Tebbutt.

In this same announcement, the EPA stated that it will seek
to continue the Bush rule for two years, despite the court ruling it illegal.
"This part of the EPA's decision is troubling" said Tebbutt,
but he added "I expect that the 6th Circuit will deny the request to keep
an illegal rule in place."  The court decision simply reinstates the
law as it was before Bush's intervention in 2006 and numerous states had
permits in place prior to the rule change.  "It will not be the
great hardship that the pesticide industry has concocted.  It is time to
reinstate the full protections to our nation's rivers, lakes and streams
envisioned by the Clean Water when it was passed in 1972" Tebbutt
concluded.

In January, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
reversed a Bush EPA decision that the spraying of pesticides into the nation's
waters should no longer be regulated by the Clean Water Act.  The Court
held that pesticide residuals and biological pesticides constitute pollutants
under federal law and therefore must be regulated under the Clean Water Act in
order to minimize the impact to human health and the environment. (Click here
for more information.)

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Western Environmental Law Center provides free or reduced-fee legal services to conservation groups, communities and individuals, challenging corporations and government agencies that violate environmental laws in the West. Our legal advocacy brings about long-lasting protections to preserve the region's air, water, public lands and forests, wildlife and habitat, and communities.

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