It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
State farmworker advocates are calling on the EPA to expand federal labor protection laws to agricultural laborers — arguing that pesticide poisoning is hampering the health of workers.
The issue of pesticide poisoning has roiled South Florida in recent years. In late 2002 and early 2003, within six weeks of each other, three children were born with serious birth defects in the farm town of Immokalee.
The Palm Beach Post reported that the parents said they had been exposed to freshly sprayed pesticides. Ag-Mart, a Plant City company that employed the parents, eventually settled out of court with parents whose child was born with no limbs. Experts said the sealed settlement was likely for millions of dollars.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it had issued Consent Agreements and Final Orders against 25 entities throughout the Southeast for violations of the Clean Water Act. Three Florida wastewater utilities were also penalized, for improperly disposing of sewage sludge.
As part of the settlements, the responsible parties have agreed to pay $184,317 in civil penalties, and spend an additional $284,791 to come into compliance.
Ten entities were cited for alleged stormwater-related violations of the Clean Water Act, which are a leading cause of impairment to the nearly 40 percent of water bodies nationwide which are not currently meeting water quality standards.
The House on Thursday approved legislation Republicans said was aimed at ensuring the EPA cannot regulate so-called "farm dust."
"Despite Administrator Jackson's statement, there is nothing currently on the books preventing the EPA from adopting a stricter regulation," Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) said. "This legislation provides iron-clad certainty to farmers, ranchers, small business owners that farm dust would stay off the EPA's to-do list for at least another year."
"This session of Congress has felt to many of us like a trip into Alice's Wonderland," Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said during closing debate. "While our nation struggles with a devastating economy, we do nothing about jobs or getting Americans back to work. Instead, we repeatedly fall down the rabbit hole of extreme legislation, and now with this [bill] … it seems that we're even having tea with the Cheshire cat.
"To paraphrase our friend the Cheshire Cat, 'We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad. You must be mad, or you wouldn't have come here.' … [The bill] is a mad solution to an imaginary problem," she added.
Democrats also charged that the bill could be used to help industries other than farming avoid federal pollution regulations.
"It is not really about farms at all," House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. "It's real effect is to exempt industrial mining operations and other large industries from regulation under the Clean Air Act, and it threatens to overturn the particulate pollution standards that protect families in both rural and urban communities."
Waxman said the bill would ban regulations related to nuisance dust, but defines "nuisance dust" in a way that could exempt not just farmers, but coal mining operations and cement plants from new particulate-matter rules. He also said Republicans rejected amendments aimed at ensuring that the bill only blocks potential new rules on dust related to farms.
House passage sends the bill to a Senate that is unlikely to take it up at all. The Obama administration has already said it would veto the bill.