NCBA, PLC praise EPA dust decision
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Public Lands Council welcomed news from the Environmental Protection Agency that the current coarse particulate matter (dust) standard will be retained. The decision came in the midst of constant pressure from NCBA and several members of Congress, including all of the Kansas congressional delegation, to convince EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson not to tighten the dust standard to make it twice as stringent.
"As further proof and upon careful consideration of the scientific record, analysis by agency scientists and advice from the independent Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, EPA today (Oct. 17) wrote Congress that it is prepared to propose to keep the current standard for PM10 when it is sent to OMB (Office of Management and Budget) for interagency review," read the statement issued by EPA.
According to NCBA President Bill Donald, there is no science-based evidence that would justify the burdensome, costly regulation that would have resulted in farmers and ranchers being fined for working in dusty environments of rural America.
"This is refreshing news," said Donald, a Montana rancher. "The consequences of EPA regulating farm dust at levels twice as stringent as the current standard would have undoubtedly forced many farmers and ranchers into nonattainment, which would have resulted in enormous fines and jeopardized the future of many farms and ranches."
While NCBA is pleased with EPA's decision, Donald said the issue is far from resolved. The dust standard could be revisited in five years. NCBA remains concerned EPA could consider imposing unreasonable dust regulations on farmers and ranchers in the future. For this reason, the organization continues to support the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, proposed by U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Congresswoman Kristi Noem of South Dakota. NCBA and 124 other organizations sent a letter supporting the bill to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Power. The legislation essentially would exempt farmers and ranchers from federal dust regulations if it is regulated at the state or local level.
PLC President John Falen said dust is a reality in rural America. The Nevada rancher suggested a state approach makes much more sense than a one-size-fits-all rule by the federal government.
"The fact is there is no science showing farm dust is a health risk at ambient levels," said Falen. "It's amazing to think one agency's heavy hand could have such a wide-reaching and devastating impact on so many farming and ranching families across the country."
Falen called EPA's decision to keep the current dust standard a "victory," but agreed with Donald the issue could come back in the future without legislative action to prevent it.