House hearing kicks up dust

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The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing today to consider legislation offered by South Dakota Republican Representative Kristi Noem that would prohibit further EPA regulation of farm dust as well as exclude farm dust that is regulated at the state or local level from federal standards.

Supporters said the legislation will stop the threat of the EPA imposing stricter dust rules on rural activities.  Opponents argued the legislation is unnecessary and so broadly-written that it could have unintended consequences by weakening regulations meant to target harmful air pollutants.

Representative Noem told panel members that her legislation would differentiate between naturally occurring dust and the dust typically found in urban areas.

Hearing 1

Congressman Henry Waxman of California took issue with the intent of the legislation, calling it a “phantom issue”.

Hearing 2

EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy also testified before the panel.

Hearing 3

Noem has said the EPA’s announcement does nothing to change the fact that they are still able to regulate farm dust.

Republican Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska is sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate, but recently stated that he had no plans to pursue it based on the EPA’s statement. Johanns said the agency “has finally provided what I’ve been asking for all along: unequivocal assurance that it won’t attempt to regulate farm dust.”

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