Cattlemen’s Corner: Dust legislation | TSLN.com

Cattlemen’s Corner: Dust legislation

For the April 23, 2011 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

There’s been a lot of talk about air quality regulations, including dust, in recent years, but dust has become an especially hot topic in recent months. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a revision to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Coarse Particulate Matter, or as you and I know it, dust. Their proposed changes would regulate dust at a level that is twice as stringent as the current standard. In anticipation of a proposed rule on this issue, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association contracted with Dr. John Richards to study whether all areas of the U.S. would be likely to reach compliance, or “attainment,” with stricter regulations. His study concluded that if the EPA moves forward with the proposed regulations, it would bring vast areas of the U.S. into nonattainment or to the brink of nonattainment. Most arid regions of the country would have a hard time meeting the strict requirements even in a non-drought year.

If this proposed revision passes, it will wreak havoc in rural America. The dust created from moving cattle, combining crops, and driving down a gravel road could potentially put our rural areas in noncompliance with the dust standards as proposed. We would be faced with having to purchase new, expensive technologies to control dust on our farms and ranches, in addition to burdensome costs to other rural businesses such as elevators. The dust caused from gravel and dirt roads may force many counties to pave all roads, which likely will be at the expense of us, the taxpayers.

Despite the assurances of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that her agency has no intention of regulating dust on farms or ranches, agricultural organizations and producers across America remain nervous. The most alarming thing about this proposal is that it doesn’t appear to need legislation to get accomplished. The EPA claims their health concerns are tied to urban dust and not rural dust, however the proposed new regulations would enable urban areas to remain in attainment while needlessly forcing rural areas into nonattainment.

Thankfully, our very own Congresswoman Kristi Noem introduced her first bill on the U.S. House floor, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act last week. The goal of her bill is to stop the EPA from implementing this standard that is twice as stringent as current regulations. Noem’s proposed bipartisan legislation would exempt agricultural dust if state and local authorities have already implemented dust control measures. It also would halt the current revision of the dust standard for one year, providing immediate relief for those involved in agriculture.

On behalf of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, thank you Representative Noem for your efforts on this potentially detrimental issue. In an era where the EPA seems to be breathing down our backs with everything we do, Noem’s bill would give farmers and ranchers room to breathe. I’d like to remind everyone that regardless of your party affiliation or the organizations you choose to belong to, this is one issue we should be united on. In no way, shape, or form would the EPA’s proposed changes be good for ANY producer.

Although it’s hard to think about dust with the wet spring we’ve had, please keep this on your radar. It’s important for our state and local governments to keep pressure on the EPA concerning this issue, reminding them of how important it really is.

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There’s been a lot of talk about air quality regulations, including dust, in recent years, but dust has become an especially hot topic in recent months. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a revision to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Coarse Particulate Matter, or as you and I know it, dust. Their proposed changes would regulate dust at a level that is twice as stringent as the current standard. In anticipation of a proposed rule on this issue, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association contracted with Dr. John Richards to study whether all areas of the U.S. would be likely to reach compliance, or “attainment,” with stricter regulations. His study concluded that if the EPA moves forward with the proposed regulations, it would bring vast areas of the U.S. into nonattainment or to the brink of nonattainment. Most arid regions of the country would have a hard time meeting the strict requirements even in a non-drought year.

If this proposed revision passes, it will wreak havoc in rural America. The dust created from moving cattle, combining crops, and driving down a gravel road could potentially put our rural areas in noncompliance with the dust standards as proposed. We would be faced with having to purchase new, expensive technologies to control dust on our farms and ranches, in addition to burdensome costs to other rural businesses such as elevators. The dust caused from gravel and dirt roads may force many counties to pave all roads, which likely will be at the expense of us, the taxpayers.

Despite the assurances of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that her agency has no intention of regulating dust on farms or ranches, agricultural organizations and producers across America remain nervous. The most alarming thing about this proposal is that it doesn’t appear to need legislation to get accomplished. The EPA claims their health concerns are tied to urban dust and not rural dust, however the proposed new regulations would enable urban areas to remain in attainment while needlessly forcing rural areas into nonattainment.

Thankfully, our very own Congresswoman Kristi Noem introduced her first bill on the U.S. House floor, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act last week. The goal of her bill is to stop the EPA from implementing this standard that is twice as stringent as current regulations. Noem’s proposed bipartisan legislation would exempt agricultural dust if state and local authorities have already implemented dust control measures. It also would halt the current revision of the dust standard for one year, providing immediate relief for those involved in agriculture.

On behalf of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, thank you Representative Noem for your efforts on this potentially detrimental issue. In an era where the EPA seems to be breathing down our backs with everything we do, Noem’s bill would give farmers and ranchers room to breathe. I’d like to remind everyone that regardless of your party affiliation or the organizations you choose to belong to, this is one issue we should be united on. In no way, shape, or form would the EPA’s proposed changes be good for ANY producer.

Although it’s hard to think about dust with the wet spring we’ve had, please keep this on your radar. It’s important for our state and local governments to keep pressure on the EPA concerning this issue, reminding them of how important it really is.

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