House Blocks Dust Rule

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating dust pollution, despite that same agency’s repeated claims that is has no interest in such a regulation.

Debate over potential dust regulation, known in the EPA as coarse particulate matter, has been an ongoing issue in the agricultural community. During the Bush administration, the EPA suggested such regulations, citing health and environmental risks associated with coarse particulate matter.

Fearing that this could lead to a crackdown on farm dust, several farm organizations sued the EPA in federal court. In 2009, a court ruled that the EPA had scientifically demonstrated the potential health and safety risks of farm dust. However, the agency stated that the point of the regulation was to create uniform standards of dust pollution in rural and urban areas, not to single out farm dust.

Several politicians have hailed the bill blocking the EPA’s potential creation of a dust regulation. South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem has called it, “A strong step in the right direction to reduce regulatory uncertainty.” Blake Farenthold of Texas criticized the non-existent EPA regulations, claiming, “Where’s the EPA going to be next, checking under my bed for dust bunnies?”

Others have criticized the futility of the bill, which President Obama has threatened to veto due to its ambiguity (Obama and others have stated that the language of the bill could exempt coalmines and industrial operations from longstanding pollution regulations). In addition, the president of the Farmers Union has stated, “Congress should stop politicizing this issue and move on to passing meaningful legislation to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer