This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act (H.R. 1633) out of committee and to the floor of the House of Representatives, where a vote is expected in the coming weeks. The bill gives authority to state and local governments to control agriculture dust and exempts it from the Clean Air Act, preventing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing strict dust standards on farmers and ranchers.
The American Sheep Industry Association, Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and 184 other agriculture-based and resource-based organizations sent a letter to the committee expressing strong support for the bill. H.R. 1633 would bring some much needed certainty to agriculture and other rural businesses by exempting rural "nuisance dust" from EPA regulation if states and localities regulate it on their own.
Farming and other resource-based industries are dusty professions. From tilling fields to driving on dirt roads to extracting resources, rural Americans deal with dust every day. Working in the soil is where they derive their livelihoods and where the world derives much of its food and other essential resources. If EPA were to revise the dust standard now or in the future, states would be put in a position of having to impose regulatory restraints on rural operations, increasing the cost of production when that cost is already at historically high levels. And, for what purpose? Scientific studies have never shown rural dust to be a health concern at ambient levels.
"H.R. 1633 is common sense legislation that we strongly support," concluded the letter. "We urge the Committee to pass the bill to help protect rural American jobs."