H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011, removes the regulatory uncertainty surrounding EPA’s current and future regulation of rural dust. The legislation passed the House on December 8, 2011 by a bipartisan vote of 268 to 150.
H.R. 1633 would:
- Temporarily prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from issuing any new National Ambient Air Quality Standard for coarse particulate matter (“PM10,” also known as dust), for at least one year from the date of enactment.
- Limit EPA regulation of nuisance dust to areas where it is not regulated under state, tribal, or local law, where nuisance dust causes substantial adverse effects, and where the benefits of federal regulation outweigh the costs.
- Define nuisance dust as PM generated primarily from natural sources, unpaved roads, agricultural activities, earth moving, or other activities typically conducted in rural areas. It consists primarily of soil and/or natural or biological materials, and meets other specific criteria.
H.R. 1633 eliminates regulatory uncertainty:
- Although EPA Administrator Jackson announced plans to propose retaining the current PM10 standard, without legislation, that standard could change through the review process – just as it did in 1996 and 2006.
- Without legislation, litigation could force a more stringent standard regardless of what EPA proposes and finalizes.
H.R. 1633 provides regulatory relief:
- Farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses are already subject to costly federal and state requirements to control dust.
- H.R. 1633 recognizes that states and local areas are better equipped to manage nuisance dust, which is why EPA regulation is limited.
Even EPA believes its current coarse particulate matter standard is adequately protective of public health and welfare. In this economy, rural businesses should be protected from additional federal red tape, which is why the certainty of H.R. 1633 to maintain the current standard is so important.