There was an interesting article last week about the Republican response to the Zika virus threat. In short, the Republicans are using the opportunity to try to roll back clean water protections. Here, in a nutshell, is what’s going on:
- Back in February President Obama introduced a $1.9 billion dollar bill to fight the Zika outbreak. Congress has, of course, not acted on President Obama’s proposal.
- Last week, the House moved the Zika Vector Control Act, which essentially guts portions of the Water Pollution Control Act and the commensurate EPA regulations that pesticide manufacturers do not like, and which require, among other things, that mosquito control districts apply for certain permits.
- However, under the EPA regulations, it turns out that (1) these regulations the clean water regulations apply only to areas larger than 6,400 acres (which is larger than many mosquito control districts) (2) if one particular pesticide has polluted a certain lake or stream one can user other kinds of pesticides, and (3) mosquito control districts may spray immediately in emergency situations and get permits later.
Referring to the Republican bill Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) opined that “[w]hat it should be called, perhaps, is the Pesticide Trojan Horse Act, which would be a more apt name for what this bill actually does.”
 According to the House summary, the legislation “amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or a state from requiring a permit under the Clean Water Act for a discharge from a point source into navigable waters of a pesticide authorized for sale, distribution, or use under FIFRA, or a residue resulting from the application of the pesticide.”
 EPA regulations angered many in the pesticide industry because it forced them to get a new permit to spray in certain circumstances, on top of a more general permit already required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.