Sep 23 2011 -
Bill Puts EPA Process on Hold, Authorizes More State & Local Power on Dust Standards
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) on Friday announced their support for an effort to suspend the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ongoing effort to regulate dust in rural areas.
The Mississippi Senators have signed as cosponsors of the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act (S.1528). The measure has two major provisions—one to impose a one-year hold on EPA efforts to revise the current federal dust standards, and a second to give states, localities and tribes more flexibility to regulate “nuisance dust.”
“Moderate levels of dust are unavoidable when it comes to agriculture and unpaved roads. I am not convinced that this condition poses any new threat to public health or that it warrants more severe federal government regulation. A temporary stop to the Environmental Protection Agency regulatory effort on rural dust is not unreasonable,” said Cochran, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“EPA’s attempt to regulate dust is another example of the Obama Administration putting unnecessary burdens on Americans,” said Wicker. “Farmers and ranchers across Mississippi are struggling with higher prices for fuel and agricultural supplies. This new EPA regulation would add to their costs and lead to more expensive grocery prices throughout the country.”
S.1528 would leave in place current EPA standards for coarse particulate matter, or dust, as set in National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and maintain public health and welfare protections under the Clean Air Act. The EPA has continued to press forward on work to determine whether NAAQS coarse particulate matter should be more tightly regulated.
The bill would also give states, local governments and tribes the ability to regulate nuisance dust, which is the type typically generated by farming activities and dirt roads in rural areas. Nuisance dust regulations developed by a local entity would supersede any federal regulations under the Clean Air Act.
In addition, the measure establishes procedures the EPA must follow if it wishes to regulate nuisance dust where there are no local regulations in place, including identifying a specific type of dust or particulate to regulate. These EPA regulations would also have to show that the benefits of any such regulation outweigh the costs to the local and regional communities.
The Senate legislation was introduced earlier this month by Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and currently has 24 cosponsors. Similar legislation in the House of Representatives (HR.1633) has 87 cosponsors, including Congressman Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.).
In February, Cochran and Wicker were among a bipartisan group of 33 Senators who recently wrote EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to encourage “common sense” when deciding whether to propose new NAAQS coarse particulate matter standards, or PM10. That correspondence recommended that the EPA retain the current standard, which today requires corrective action if PM10 levels exceed 150 parts per million averaged over a 24-hour period.
• NAASQ: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/pm/pm10_index.html
• EPA Draft Policy Assessment (June 2010): http://www.epa.gov/ttnnaaqs/standards/pm/data/20100630seconddraftpmpa.pdf