Representative Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and 112 House co-sponsors have introduced legislation to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating dust. That's despite Administrator Lisa Jackson's public statement that the agency has no intention of regulating rural dust. During a recent House subcommittee hearing, Noem spoke in support of HR 1633.
"This bill would insure that the EPA does not increase their standards for a year, which brings some certainty to the agriculture industry," Noem said. "And then there is a second component that actually defines nuisance dust that encapsulates farm dust, which right now is not defined within the statute and proves the difference between the two and that they need to be treated separately from what urban dust is. Urban dust is stuff that you would find in a city that has been proven to have detrimental health effects. The course particulate matter defined as farm dust has no scientific data that it is harmful."
Noem says her proposal prevents tighter regulations on particulate matter for one year from the date of enactment. She says the legislation is still needed, as EPA is currently conducting a review of the standard and could finalize something different from the proposed PM10 standard.
"Anything could make that change, she could decide tomorrow that she wants to move to that kind of a change," Noem said. "Or a lawsuit could come up or some kind of litigation that would prompt the EPA to change its mind. I truly believe and a hundred other co-sponsors on the House side believe that the certainty agriculture needs is we are not going to change this for a year; the EPA cannot change it at all."
The fate of Noem's proposal is unclear. Companion legislation in the Senate was dropped after receiving EPA assurance they wouldn't impose stricter rules.