Farm dust regulation prevention act

Sep 16, 2011

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE.) introduced three pieces of legislation that would ease the regulatory burdens plaguing farmers and ranchers. One of his bills would explicitly prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating farm dust. Another bill would freeze federal agencies’ ability to impose most new rules and regulations, while the third would close loopholes that have led to federal agencies expanding their powers by circumventing Congressional oversight.

EPA is currently reviewing existing regulations for particulate matter, which includes soot and dust. While soot is generated by car emissions and factories, dust occurs naturally.

“Regulation of farm dust by EPA could severely hamper the ability of farmers and ranchers to meet the world’s food needs,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

According to Stallman, planting and harvesting crops, livestock moving from place to place and people driving down dirt roads are just a few of the ways dust occurs naturally on farms and in rural areas.

“The current rules pertaining to dust are adequate,” said Stallman. “Increased regulation of farm dust could result in de creased productivity and higher food prices, coupled with lost jobs in the rural economy. Moreover, the scientific basis for establishing such regulation has been called into question and it has not been demonstrated that the benefits of EPA regulation would outweigh the costs.”

The abundance of regulations already placed on the agriculture community are diverting resources farmers and ranchers could use to expand their operations and create much needed jobs.

“Our job creators are facing a mountain of new rules and regulations deterring them from growing and creating jobs,” Johanns said.

“The policies and regulations imposed by the Obama Administration have done nothing to alleviate our country’s nine percent unemployment rate. If we’re serious about creating a positive economic environment, we’ll act quickly on these regulatory reforms to enable our job creators to move this economy forward.”

Johanns’ three bills include:

Federal Regulation Moratorium—The Obama Administration to date has proposed more than 54,000 pages of federal regulations in 2011, which would cost American businesses more than $69 billion. This bill would put a freeze on these and any other new regulations through 2013.

Closure of Regulatory Loopholes—This bill would close a loophole that allows agencies to establish power without full Congressional review. Current law permits Congress to disapprove of agency rules; agencies have gotten around this by instead issuing guidance documents to expand their jurisdiction. A recent example is a guidance document issued by EPA that, in the agency’s own view, would significantly expand the waters of the United States subject to federal control and regulation. The bill amends the Congressional Review Act to cover both agency rules and guidance documents.

Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act—EPA continues to pursue regulations of farm dust. This bill would prevent EPA from regulating dust in rural America while maintaining the protections to public health under the Clean Air Act. EPA would still be allowed to regulate dust, but only if no local regulations are in place. Additionally, EPA would have to identify scientific evidence of substantial adverse health effects of farm dust as well as demonstrate that the benefits of regulation outweigh the costs to communities.— Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor