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September 15, 2011

Johanns, Grassley Seek EPA Support of Farm Dust Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today asked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to provide certainty and put action behind her words of support for farmers and ranchers concerned about the potential regulation of farm dust. Johanns has introduced, and Grassley has co-sponsored, a bill that would prohibit EPA farm dust regulation. In a letter to Jackson, the senators outlined conflicting statements made by EPA and requested her support for the bill as a way to provide clarity to the agency's position.

"EPA won't hesitate to tell farmers not to worry about farm dust regulations, but when pressed further, all we hear are intentionally vague statements and mixed signals," Johanns said. "Their claims that they have no plans to regulate farm dust conflict with their statements that they're not able to distinguish farm dust from other regulated dust. If regulation of farm dust truly is a myth, as Administrator Jackson has suggested, she should debunk that myth once and for all by supporting my bill. Farmers and ranchers would applaud her for providing this certainty."

"The EPA has been giving conflicting answers and having it both ways on the dust issue for long enough. It's time for Administrator Jackson to set the record straight and put the word out to the employees of the EPA that agriculture dust is off the table,” Grassley said. "When soybeans are at the right moisture level, they need to be combined, and if God determined that the wind is going to blow that day, there’s absolutely nothing a farmer can do. Dust happens."

EPA's April 2011 Policy Assessment for the Review of the Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards recommends doubling the severity of dust regulation. Despite this, Administrator Jackson has been reported as telling farmers that any contention that EPA plans to regulate farm dust is a "myth."

However, EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy stated in an April letter that EPA's air quality standards are "not focused on any specific category of sources or any particular activity (including activities related to agriculture or rural roads)."

Johanns' bill would thus enable EPA to consider the source of particulate matter and prohibit the agency from regulating farm dust.

The letter to Administrator Jackson can be found here.

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