Legislation Guts Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Public Lands Protections
WASHINGTON— In a narrow vote, on June 21 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a 2018 Farm Bill that contains an unprecedented provision that would allow the killing of endangered wildlife with pesticides.
With every Democrat and 20 Republicans voting in opposition, H.R. 2, the so-called Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, passed by a vote of 213 to 211. Two Republicans abstained from voting.
“House Republicans just put killer whales, frogs and hundreds of other species on the fast track to extinction,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is a stunning gift to the pesticide industry with staggeringly harmful implications for wildlife.”
The legislation would also eliminate the requirement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analyze a pesticide’s harm to the nation’s 1,800 protected species before the Environmental Protection Agency can approve it for general use. A separate provision would eliminate the Clean Water Act’s requirement that private parties applying pesticides directly into lakes, rivers and streams must first obtain a permit.
During this session of Congress, the pesticide industry has spent more than $43 million on congressional lobbying to advance these provisions.
In addition to giveaways to the pesticide industry, H.R. 2 includes a sweeping provision that would gut environmental protections for national forests to expedite logging and mining, including eliminating nearly all protections for old-growth forests in Alaska. The legislation contains nearly 50 separate provisions that would eliminate all public input in land-management decisions provided by the National Environmental Policy Act.
“This farm bill should be called the Extinction Act of 2018,” said Hartl. “If it becomes law, this bill will be remembered for generations as the hammer that drove the final nail into the coffin of some of America’s most vulnerable species.”