Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed its long-awaited, controversial dust standard. EPA plans to retain the current standard, officially known as the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for coarse particulate matter. The standard was formerly controversial because EPA staff announced the administrator would be "justified" in doubling the stringency of the current dust standard.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) welcomed the news, but the group's Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald warns the issue is likely far from over. "We learned from the last two reviews of this standard that a final standard can look very different that the proposal. It is important to note that EPA's action today is simply a proposal from the agency and not the final standard," McDonald explains. The final standard is scheduled to be released by EPA in December of this year.
McDonald says cattlemen are really in search of certainty when it comes to rules and regulations being promulgated by EPA and other agencies. This is why NCBA fully supports the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act introduced by Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.). The legislation would provide permanent relief and regulatory certainty by exempting the agricultural community from EPA dust regulations. The legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but the Senate version (S. 1528) has not been brought up for a vote.
In Senate farm bill negotiations, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) has insisted on votes on five restrictions on regulations, including one to prevent the farm dust rule.