Tuesday, December 13, 2011

House Passes Bill to Prevent EPA from Regulating Farm Dust

Last Thursday, the House passed a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") from regulating farm dust. H.R. 1633, the "Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011," would prohibit the EPA from  proposing, finalizing, implementing, or enforcing any regulation revising the national primary or secondary ambient air quality standard applicable to particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter greater than 2.5 micrometers under the Clean Air Act ("CAA") for one year.

Bill co-sponsor Representative Jeff Denham, whose district covers parts of Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus counties, commented:
The Administration’s excessive regulations have hindered business growth and job creation for too long. I co-sponsored this legislation because it will eliminate regulatory uncertainty and provide relief for Valley small businesses and farmers. Farmers, ranchers, and Valley businesses are already subject to costly federal and state requirements to control dust. This legislation would protect rural businesses from additional, excessive red tape in order to increase certainty among our job creators.
Opponents argued that the bill is unnecessary, given the EPA's stated position that it does not currently intend to regulate coarse particulate matter. In testimony on the bill, an EPA official explained:
EPA Administrator Jackson committed in an October 14, 2011 letter that EPA is prepared to propose to keep the PM10 national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) as it is, with no change.  This existing standard has been in effect since 1987.  I am hopeful that this announcement ends the myth that the Agency has plans to tighten regulation of “farm dust.”
Despite such assurances, the bill passed 268-150, including unanimous Republican support and the votes of 33 Democrats. But it is not expected to pass in the Senate, and would likely face a Presidential veto in any event. In a statement on the bill, the Obama Administration stated:
The bill therefore, goes far beyond its stated intent of prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from tightening national standards for coarse particles, which the Administration has repeatedly explained that it has no intention of doing. This ambiguously written bill would create high levels of regulatory uncertainty regarding emission control requirements that have been in place for years.
More information regarding this legislation may be found here. Materials from a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including a video of the hearing and witness statements, may be found here.

For more information regarding this matter, please contact Eric Adair or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

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