Decades of progress in sustainable farming, fisheries, and clean water protections are being unraveled.
The federal government should support policies that help farmers, fishermen, and other food producers make a sustainable living that doesn’t hurt the environment or endanger consumers. Unfortunately, this Administration has chosen sweeping measures to eliminate protections and put agribusiness interests ahead of the health of workers and consumers.
  1. The EPA reversed a planned ban on the highly toxic insecticide chlorpyrifos. This pesticide, commonly sprayed on fruit and vegetable crops, can harm children’s brain development even at low levels. The EPA had previously noted that chlorpyrifos levels in food and water routinely exceed safe levels, and pose an even greater risk to agricultural workers and their families. This reversal came after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met with a Dow Chemical executive, and despite urging from the American Academy of Pediatrics for a ban. Read more from the Environmental Working GroupNatural Resources Defense Council, and The New York Times.
  2. The USDA withdrew a requirement for organic livestock and poultry producers to give animals more room and access to the outdoors. These National Organic Program rules have been in development for ten years, and were welcomed by many organic producers to enforce higher standards of animal welfare. Consumers are increasingly concerned about animal welfare, and believe that when they buy organic they can trust that these animals were treated well. Weakening organic standards misleads consumers and hurts producers who put the time and money into getting that USDA Organic certification. Read more about this rule from the Organic Trade Association, the Humane Society, and Civil Eats.
  3. The Administration issued an executive order directing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw a Clean Water Rule that would limit pollution in smaller streams feeding into larger waterways. This repeal could deny clean water protections for over 100 million Americans, and will especially harm rural residents who rely on individual wells for their water supply. Read more about this rule from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Harvard University Law School Environmental Law Program.
  4. The Administration has taken unprecedented steps to get involved in rolling back fisheries protections, including the decision by the Commerce Department to ignore its own Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s recommendations on catch limits for declining fish stocks. This and other changes to catch limits and protections signal the administration’s commitment to putting big business interests ahead of small fishermen and long-term viability of fisheries. Read more about this intervention from the Boston Globe.
  5. The Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service withdrew a proposed rule to limit “bycatch” killing of whales, dolphins, and turtles in Pacific fisheries. Without proper precautions, swordfish nets can entangle and kill these larger species, whose populations are small and who play a crucial role in the sustainability of the fisheries ecosystem. Read about this rule from the Harvard University Law School Environmental Law Program, or in the Los Angeles Times.
  6. The Administration repealed a rule that would keep mining companies from dumping rubble and industrial by-products into valleys and waterways. Known as the Stream Protection Rule, it aimed to protect human and environmental health from exposure to heavy metals like selenium, mercury, and arsenic, that can result from the wholesale demolition and dumping done by mountaintop removal mining. Read more about this repeal from the Natural Resources Defense Council or in The Hill.
  7. The Administration’s choice to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has opposed the mission of the agency since his time as Attorney General of Oklahoma. He now estimates that during this Administration, the EPA staff will be cut by nearly 50 percent. This reckless reduction includes scientists, researchers, and staff providing technical assistance to protect human and environmental health. Read more from Environmental Working Group.
  8. The Administration plans to open nearly 90 percent of federal waters to oil and gas drilling by private energy companies. Coastal communities, fishermen, environmental groups, and state governors from both parties oppose drilling off of their coasts. Potential oil spills put our food chain at risk and endanger coastal businesses and families that rely on these waters for their livelihoods. Read more from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the New York Times.

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