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Proposed legislation on funding a clean water trust fund includes taxes on crop protection and fertilizer products.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has published for Congress a 46-page evaluation of options for a clean water trust fund to secure $10 billion annually over the next decade for improvements in wastewater infrastructure.
U.S. House of Representatives Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) requested the report to gain support for the tax, according to a CropLife America press release.
Jay Vroom, CropLife America’s president and CEO, notes that a key option is the levying of excise taxes on certain products — including pesticides and fertilizer.
According to CropLife America’s press release, the report indicates less than half of those surveyed for the report viewed fertilizer and pesticide use as highly connected to wastewater infrastructure use and, by inference, system deterioration.
In its report, GAO briefly summarized CropLife America’s reasons for opposition as, “It is unlikely that fertilizers and pesticides applied on agricultural land would enter a municipality’s wastewater infrastructure system, and it would not be fair to tax these products in order to fund this infrastructure.”
CropLife America notes the GAO didn’t include the association’s argument that it would be inappropriate for a “clean water” excise tax to be applied to a process like agricultural storm-water runoff that is explicitly exempted from regulation by the Clean Water Act.