Catch Between Water & Dust Regs Eased A Bit

The tidal wave of opposition to federal regulation and, in particular, the EPA’s efforts to derail the economy is chipping away a bit at Lisa Jackson’s famous,  “Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead approach.”  With agriculture caught between Clean Water regulation that classified puddles as navigable waters and proposed dust regulation that would halt pickups and tractors when it was dry, Jackson has threatened the very existence of food production in the United States.

But with reelection pressures on the Obama adminstration added to years of complaints from farm and ranch groups, ridicule in public, pressure from Congressmen and the very real threat of shutting down rural activity, EPA Administrator Jackson is being forced to slow the engines a little. 

NCBA and the Public Lands Council reported Monday that EPA had decided to “retain the current coarse particulate matter (dust) standard,” rather than hold farm and ranch operations to a standard twice as stringent.  They pointed out that farmers and ranchers would have faced the choice to operate and risk enormous fines and insolvency or shutting down.  Simply driving a pickup down a country gravel road would have exceeded proposed dust limits.

NCBA’s Bill Donald complained that farmers and ranchers should not be at risk to some federal dust standard in the first place.  The potential for EPA to ratchet down the standards is always there.

So Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Ne.) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) have introduced a bill that would essentially exempt farmers and ranchers from federal dust regulation as long as state and local governments regulate it (H.R. 1633).  Over 125 organizations signed a letter of support for the bill sent to the House Energy and Power Subcomittee.

This issue is not dead as long as EPA can change its mind under federal authority any time in the future.  But this issue reminds everyone that public pressure from producers in an industry, added to Congressional pressure and the threat of retaliation at the polls can have an impact on federal agencies and elected officials.  It is why political interest and activity is important for all involved in food production.

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Published in: on October 18, 2011 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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