Grassley looks to limit farm dust regulations

Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Senator Chuck Grassley is concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency is over-regulating dust production in rural areas. For the past five year Grassley has opposed the EPA’s dust regulations, and he just proposed a bill blocking some of these restrictions. The bill looks to both stop the EPA from changing the dust standard during the next year, and to increase the EPA’s leniency towards rural areas.

The Oskaloosa News reports:

The bill takes a two prong approach to keep the EPA from regulating farm dust. First, it prevents the EPA from revising the current dust standard for one year from date of enactment.

The bill also provides flexibility for states, localities, and tribes to regulate “nuisance dust.” Nuisance dust is defined in the bill to exclude the type of dust typical of rural areas (unpaved roads and dust resulting from agricultural activities) from the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) regulation targeted at harmful air pollutants. If the state, tribal, or local government chooses to regulate nuisance dust, these regulations would supersede any regulations put forth by the federal government under the Clean Air Act. If there are no local regulations in place and the EPA wants to regulate this type of dust, the EPA must find that the specific type of dust or particulate matter causes adverse health effects and that the benefits of applying EPA’s standard to that area outweigh the costs to the local and regional communities, including economic and employment impacts. The Clean Air Act does not currently differentiate between urban and rural dust, so this provides the EPA with a distinction between the two for implementation of air quality standards.

In late July Senator Grassley was among a group that sent a letter to EPA’s administrator, Lisa Jackson, regarding the dust regulations. The letter expressed concern over the feasibility of EPA’s regulations:

We respect efforts for a clean and healthy environment, but not at the expense of common sense. These identified levels will be extremely burdensome for farmers and livestock producers to attain. Whether its livestock kicking up dust, soybeans being combined on a dry day in the fall, or driving a car down the gravel road, dust in a naturally occurring event.

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