ALABAMA CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION BACKS BILL TO LIMIT EPA DUST REGULATIONS
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Reps. Spencer Bachus and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) were among more than 100 cosponsors of legislation that would limit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating naturally occurring dust. The bill passed the House of Representatives Thursday by a margin of 268-150. All seven members of Alabama's congressional delegation supported the bill.
U.S. Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Robert Hurt (R-Va.) sponsored the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, H.R. 1633. If it becomes law, the bill would limit (EPA) from regulating naturally occurring dust from rural areas to those areas where it is not regulated under state, tribal or local law, where the nuisance dust causes substantial adverse effects and the benefits of federal regulation outweigh the costs.
Coarse particulate matter (dust) is a naturally occurring substance found mostly in rural areas. It is frequently caused by activities on unpaved roads and in farm fields. Virtually all of the data on possible environmental effects of coarse particulate matter comes from urban studies. EPA is reviewing the ambient air quality standard for coarse particulate matter in the normal course of a 5-year review required by the Clean Air Act.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recently announced that the agency would not propose any revisions to the current standard, a course that is supported by the Alabama Farmers Federation. This legislation, however, is still necessary in order to provide certainty to farmers, ranchers and rural residents that naturally occurring dust will not be federally regulated. Regulations often change from the proposal stage to the final rule and combined with the threat of citizen lawsuits, the current situation provides no certainty.
An identical bill was introduced in the Senate in September by U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and is awaiting action in the Committee on Environment and Public Works.