Dust Myth Reappears in Republican Debate

Fears that the Environmental Protection Agency might regulate farm dust reappeared earlier this week during the Republican Presidential Debates.

Over the past several months, the debate over farm dust has flared up. Republican lawmakers have excoriated the EPA, using the farm dust regulations, which EPA officials insist they are not creating, as evidence of the organization’s overreach.

During the Republican Debates this week, Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich stated,

“In Arizona, they went in on the dust regulation and suggested to them that maybe if they watered down the earth, they wouldn’t have these dust storms in the middle of the year. And people said to them, ‘You know, the reason it’s called a desert is there’s no water.’ Now this is an agency out of touch with reality, which I believe is incorrigible, and you need a new agency that is practical, has commonsense, uses economic factors and, in the case pollution, actually incentives change, doesn’t just punish it.”

Gingrich isn’t the only politician to attack a phantom regulation. Last month, Representative Kristi Noem sponsored legislation that would prevent the EPA from regulating farm dust as part of their Clean Air Act mandate (the language of Noem’s legislation, some environmentalists claim, would also exempt polluters like coal mines from Clean Air mandates)

Farm organizations are split over the farm dust dustup. Major organizations like the Farm Bureau are supportive of Noem’s legislation, arguing that farmers need firm assurances that the EPA won’t attempt to impose dust regulations. Smaller organizations like the National Farmers Union, however, have criticized the bill as a waste of time.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer