AmericanFarm.com

Dust in the wind ... or is it? (Editorial)

In yet another outrageous display of its assumed — and often legally challenged — power, the Environmental Protection Agency decided last year to regulate dust.
The EPA declared that dust — “nuisance dust,” whatever that is — impacted air quality, and was therefore in violation of the Clean Air Act. There was immediate concern in the farm community.
Was it possible that the EPA, again running amok, could regulate farm dust, particulates kicked up in the air during normal farming practices?
That possibility caught the attention of Congress and it didn’t take long for the U.S. House of Representatives to adopt the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act (H.R. 1633), introduced by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.).
H.R. 1633 exempts agriculture dust if state and local authorities have already implemented dust control measures.
It would establish a temporary prohibition against revising any national ambient air quality standard applicable to coarse particulate matter in order to limit federal regulation of “nuisance dust.”
In areas where there are no state or local dust control measures, H.R. 1633 requires the EPA to prove substantial health effects and show how addressing those effects outweigh the economic costs of implementing more stringent regulations.
In the wake of H.R. 1633, the EPA offered an “excuse us” asserting that it had no intention of regulating agriculture dust.
Fine, said the lawmakers; this bill will then simply keep you honest in the future.
The bill is in the Senate but as of mid-December — no surprise — senators had other things on their minds and it had received no attention.
But presumably it will get attention in the new year. It is imperative that it does.
The EPA, it was feared, was considering regulating dust at a level twice as stringent as the current clean air level — putting rural parts of the country where dust naturally occurs on the hook for expensive and unnecessary federal regulation.
The potential revision appeared to some to go so far as to create a new standard which could have been below naturally occurring levels of dust in some states, making it impossible to meet.
We applaud any effort to reign in the EPA horses.