WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today applauded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s announcement that it will not revise its regulations on coarse particulate matter, and thus will not be regulating farm dust. The announcement provides clarity to ambiguous and sometimes conflicting comments previously made by the agency, including a staff recommendation that would have regulated farm dust.
"This is a victory for farmers and ranchers, and for those who believe in the power of people to prevent misguided and unnecessary regulations," Johanns said. "EPA has finally provided what I've been asking for all along: unequivocal assurance that it won't attempt to regulate farm dust. The reason my farm dust legislation was necessary, and the reason it had been garnering so much bipartisan support, is because EPA was not being straightforward about their intentions when it comes to farm dust.
"It had been called a myth, but on the other hand an agency official also stated EPA doesn't consider the source of the particulate matter it regulates, including whether it originates from farms and rural roads. Because of this victory, I will not pursue my farm dust amendment today, but won't hesitate to press for a vote again if EPA returns to this misguided path."
EPA in April released a report on particulate matter, which included a staff recommendation to double the stringency of the agency's regulations on a certain type of particulate matter known as PM10, which would have captured naturally-occurring farm dust in EPA's regulatory net.
In a letter to Sen. Johanns, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy stated that EPA's air quality standards "are set to protect public health from outdoor air pollution, and are not focused on any specific category of sources or any particular activity (including activities related to agriculture or rural roads)."
In a letter released today, dated Friday, October 14, to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Administrator Jackson cleared up the confusion by stating, "Based on my consideration of the scientific record, analysis provided by EPA scientists and advice from the Clean Air Science Advisory Council, I am prepared to propose the retention – with no revision – of the current PM10 standard and form when it is sent to the (White House) for interagency review."