EPA targets climate change & pesticides in its new five-year Strategic Plan

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



Washington, Oct. 7 - EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson released a five-year Strategic Plan Thursday which promises that EPA will “work harder and look further ahead” to deal with “growing environmental protection needs.”

Listing climate change as an issue which “must be considered and integrated into all aspects of our work,” the EPA plan supports “strong, science-based climate legislation.” It adds that EPA will develop “regulatory tools as warranted under law using the authority of the Clean Air Act” to address climate change. EPA notes that “Many effects of climate change are already evident and will persist into the future regardless of future levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

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The plan lists five strategic goals:

  • Taking Action on Climate Change and Improving Air Quality
  • Protecting America's Waters
  • Cleaning Up Communities and Advancing Sustainable Development
  • Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution
  • Enforcing Environmental Laws

Top priority issues identified in the EPA report include developing new ways to deal with “nonpoint source pollution, principally nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediments,” a problem which EPA says “has been recognized as the largest remaining impediment to improving water quality.” EPA states that remedial action is needed because “our waters are stressed by nutrient pollution, excess sedimentation, and degradation of shoreline vegetation, which affect upwards of 50 percent of our lakes and streams.” It warns that “Climate change will compound these problems, highlighting the urgency to evaluate with our partners options for protecting infrastructure, conserving water, reducing energy use, adopting 'green' infrastructure and watershed-based practices, and improving the resilience of infrastructural and natural systems, including utilities, watersheds, and estuaries.”

The EPA strategy plan also highlights the need to “Reduce the risk of chemicals that enter our products, our environment, and our bodies.” EPA warns that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) “is outdated and should be revised to provide stronger and clearer authority for EPA to collect and act upon critical data regarding chemical risks.”

On pesticides, the EPA plan states that: “One of EPA's highest priorities over the next five years is to ensure the safety of chemicals and pesticides . . . Over the next five years, EPA will manage a comprehensive pesticide risk reduction program through science-based registration and reevaluation processes, a worker safety program, certification and training activities, and support for integrated pest management . . . under a new drinking water strategy, the Agency is exploring how to use the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and TSCA to ensure that drinking water is protected from pesticides and industrial chemicals and that chemicals found in drinking water are being screened for endocrine disrupting properties using the authorities of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), and FIFRA.”

Among EP's goals for pesticides, the plan specifies that:

  • By 2015, reduce by 40 percent the number of moderate to severe exposure incidents associated with organophosphates and carbamate insecticides in the general population.”
  • “By 2015, no watersheds will exceed aquatic life benchmarks for targeted pesticides.”

To achieve its new goals, EPA promises to “Pursue vigorous civil and criminal enforcement that targets the most serious water, air, and chemical hazards in communities. Assure strong, consistent, and effective enforcement of federal environmental laws nationwide.”

To read EPA's 72-page “2011-2015 EPA Strategic Plan,” go to: www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2015/FY2011_2015_EPA_Strategic_Plan.pdf

To read the views of House Republican members, led by House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), charging that EPA is already engaged in an “Assault on Rural America,” go to: www.agri-pulse.com/20100929H_Republican_forum_Blasts_EPA_Assault_on_Rural_America_Agriculture.asp

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