Washington, D.C. – Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ranking Member, made the following remarks during an Environment and Public Works Committee markup of several bills, including S. 1324 and S. 1500, which are extremely harmful to public health.  S. 1324 would block the President’s Clean Power Plan and allow states to opt out of complying with any future plan.  S. 1500 would end the requirement that a Clean Water Act permit is needed for spraying dangerous pesticides into a body of water.

The text of Senator Boxer’s opening statement is below (watch the VIDEO of Sen. Boxer’s opening remarks):  

We are here today to consider several bills.  Two of these bills, S. 1324 and S. 1500, are extremely harmful to the people we represent.

The first bill blocks the President’s Clean Power Plan and allows states to opt out of complying with any future plan.  The bill creates giant loopholes making it nearly impossible to take any meaningful action to address climate change and reduce harmful carbon pollution.

We know if we turn away from the President’s Clean Power Plan that we not only move toward the most devastating impacts of climate change, but we hurt the health of the American people. Why would we want to do something that would mean up to 90,000 more asthma attacks, 1,700 more heart attacks, 3,600 more premature deaths, and 300,000 more missed days at school and work?

We have letters in opposition to this bill from dozens of public health, business, environmental, and religious groups. I ask unanimous consent for these letters to be entered into the record.

The second controversial bill would end the requirement that you need a Clean Water Act permit if you are spraying pesticides into a body of water.  Just think about it – the sole purpose of a pesticide is to kill something, whether it is an insect or a weed.  When pesticides get into bodies of water where our children swim and waterways that provide drinking water to our families, we are exposing people to substances that are known to be toxic.

Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of damaging human health impacts, including irritation of the skin and eyes, damage to the nervous system, and other harm to pregnant women, infants and children.  Pesticides can also be human carcinogens.  And the negative effects on the environment, including to fisheries, have been well documented.

Over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the U.S., and the U.S. Geological Survey found that 61% of agricultural streams and 90% of urban streams are contaminated with one or more pesticides.  Clearly, pesticide pollution is a problem.

The Clean Water Act permit has been in place since 2011, and it has not stopped the use of pesticides.  Instead, it ensures pesticides are used in a responsible way that reduces contamination of our streams, rivers, and lakes.  Why on Earth do you need to repeal this public health safeguard? 

The answer is -- we should not. That is why a broad range of groups, including commercial fishermen and public health and environmental organizations, have written in opposition to legislation to exempt pesticides from the Clean Water Act.  I ask unanimous consent to enter these letters into the record.

It shocks me that this Committee – the Environment Committee – could lead the charge against a clean and healthy environment.  It doesn’t make any sense.  These bills may be reported today, but I expect strong opposition on the Senate floor.