Continuing his efforts to repeal burdensome, costly and ridiculous regulations, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts signed on as a co-sponsor this week to a bill that prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating farm dust.
"This is one of those potential regulations that makes you scratch your head, because it simply defies common sense," said Roberts. "Whether it is cattle kicking up dust in a feedlot in Larned, Kansas or wheat being harvested on a hot afternoon on the High Plains in June, dust is a naturally-occurring event. It is critical to recognize that no one cares more about maintaining a clean environment than the American farmer and rancher, who know firsthand that clean air and water and healthy soil go hand-in-hand with a healthy economy. Our producers deserve respect and appreciation from the EPA, not costly and redundant regulation."
The bill, S. 1328, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, would stop the EPA from regulating dust in rural America by preventing it from imposing more stringent dust standards for one year. It would also allow state and localities the flexibility to address any rural dust issues before the federal government would have the authority to do so.
For the EPA to retain regulatory authority, the bill would require the EPA to identify scientific evidence of substantial adverse health effects of farm dust, as well as demonstrate that the benefits of the regulation outweigh the economic costs to affected communities.
EPA Region 7 administrator Karl Brooks, the office that oversees regulations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Nine Tribal Nations, told Kansas Farmer in an interview that the EPA has no intention of imposing regulations on farm dust.
He said the "potential regulation" charge stems from requirements in the Clean Air Act that mandate the EPA review particulate matter hazards every eight years to determine if new issues have arisen.
Brooks said the agency is only concerned about particulates in high-population areas and the ones that of most concern are fine particulates too small to even be seen by the human eye but that pose a threat to health when they lodge in the lungs. Those particles are part of the emissions from industrial smokestacks.
The bill was recently introduced in the Senate by Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Sen. Roberts is the author of legislation to require a review of federal regulations to identify those regulations that harm the nation's economic recovery. It has 47 cosponsors. Roberts is the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.