NCBA disappointed with dust regulation ruling

February 26, 2009 06:00 PM

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision to deny a petition for review of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rule that regulates dust under the Clean Air Act. The petition was filed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and other groups. 

"We are very disappointed with the Court's decision,” NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Tamara Thies said. "There is no scientific evidence that agriculture dust causes adverse health effects, and its regulation under the Clean Air Act is completely unjustified.” 

The regulation of agriculture dust means that activities ranging from soil tilling, cattle movements in feedyards, driving on unpaved roads, and planting and harvesting crops could all come under the regulatory strong-arm of the EPA.

EPA released a final rule on regulating particles in the air under the Clean Air Act in October 2006, which says that states should focus on regulating dust in urban areas instead of rural areas because of a lack of scientific data on health or environmental affects of agriculture dust. However, the EPA stopped short of exempting agriculture dust from regulation. Consequently, NCBA filed an appeal of the rule in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held on September 15, 2008.

Every five years, the EPA is required to review scientific studies associated with pollutants regulated under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) of the Clean Air Act to determine if the pollutant is regulated appropriately. Dust has been included as a pollutant, despite the fact that health studies do not show it is a concern. In order to regulate a pollutant under NAAQS, scientific studies are supposed to show that the pollutant causes adverse effects on health or the environment. 

"The Clean Air Act is intended to regulate pollutants that cause adverse health or environmental effects," Thies explains. "Clearly, expanding this to include the regulation of agriculture dust goes beyond the intent of the Act."

Questions or comments? E-mail Kim Watson, editor of  Beef Today.
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