Oct 25 2011
OVERVIEW: HR 1633 is a bipartisan bill that addresses the regulation of dust, which is subject to regulation under the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for coarse particulate matter (“PM10”) within its National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program. EPA is currently conducting a review of that standard.
DESCRIPTION: The bill uses a two-pronged approach to eliminate uncertainty for rural America about federal regulation of farm dust. First, it provides immediate relief to farmers and rural areas by preventing revision of the current dust standard for one year from the date of enactment. Second, it provides additional regulatory relief by exempting “nuisance dust” from EPA regulation if such dust is regulated under state, tribal, or local law. Under the bill, the EPA would continue to be authorized to regulate such dust in geographic areas where it is not regulated at the state or local level if the nuisance dust is found to cause substantial adverse public health and welfare effects, and the benefits outweigh the costs.
MYTH: The EPA doesn’t regulate dust. This is a “phantom issue.”
FACT: EPA already regulates dust including farm dust. As part of a regularly scheduled 5-year review of NAAQS for particulate matter, EPA is reviewing its standard for “coarse” particulate matter. Coarse particulate matter includes particles between 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter, and is commonly known as “PM10,” or dust.
MYTH: Didn’t EPA recently say they aren’t going to change their regulatory standards?
FACT: Although EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recently said that she plans to propose retaining the current standard, EPA could still finalize a standard that is different from the proposed standard. This occurred in both the 1996 and 2006 reviews of the PM10 standard.
MYTH: The EPA has said they won’t change their standard which means no changes for 5 years.
FACT: Without legislation, an EPA proposal to retain the current standard could still be challenged in court and eventually modified, imposing greater burdens and costs on rural America. EPA itself added to the regulatory uncertainty earlier this year when it produced conflicting recommendations for the current PM10 standard – one recommendation to keep the current standard and another recommendation to lower the level, despite uncertainty about a scientific justification for modifying the standard. By directing the Administrator not to change the current PM10 standard, HR 1633 eliminates regulatory uncertainty associated with the current rulemaking process.
MYTH: Rural dust is just as dangerous as urban dust.
FACT: There is no scientific evidence that says rural dust is as dangerous as other dust, including urban dust.
MYTH: States can’t be trusted to regulate dust, that’s the job of the EPA.
FACT: State and local regulators have developed nuisance dust control measures that are currently being implemented in rural America. Dust is an inherently local issue. Different environmental and geographic characteristics mean effective dust control can vary from region to region. HR 1633 exempts nuisance dust from federal regulation where it is already subject to regulation under state, tribal, or local law. Yet it is important to remember, HR 1633 preserves EPA’s authority to regulate such nuisance dust under its NAAQS program where such dust is not regulated at the state or local level, and the EPA Administrator finds substantial adverse public health and welfare effects and that the benefits of EPA regulation outweigh the costs.
MYTH: This is a partisan political issue, not something that “real people” care about.
FACT: A group of over 100 agriculture organizations have voiced their support for this bipartisan bill saying, “[the bill] would bring some much needed certainty to agriculture and other rural resource-based industries during these current perilous economic and regulatory times… HR 1633 is common sense legislation that retains the protections of the Clean Air Act and, at the same time, would stop EPA’s regulatory overreach.” Signers of the letter include South Dakota Association of Cooperatives, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Corn Growers Association, South Dakota Farm Bureau, South Dakota Sheep Growers Association, and South Dakota Soybean Association. The South Dakota Stock Growers have also voiced their support for the bill along with Western Business Roundtable, National Federation of Independent Business, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce .
 “Nuisance dust” is defined in the bill as “particulate matter (1) generated from natural sources, unpaved roads, agricultural activities, earth moving, or other activities typically conducted in rural areas; or (2) consisting primarily of soil, other biological materials, windblown dust, or some combination thereof.”