Dust Regulation Rears its Head Again

EPA committee puts out draft letter to cut allowable dust.

Published on: Sep 10, 2010

An Environmental Protection Agency draft standard aimed at dust pollution has set off alarms at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The issue seemed to subside for months, but has now been kicked up again by an EPA advisory panel, intent on reducing airborne dust.  AFB lobbyist Rick Krause says that the Executive Advisory Committee for Clean Air has issued a draft letter that would cut in half the standard for what they call course particulate matter, which is another name for dust.

Krause says while this is not a big deal in urban areas, in more windy rural areas with dirt roads and farms it's a problem.

"About the only ways you can meet the standard is to stop some of the practices you're doing," Krause said. "Stop driving, paving roads, and stop planting crops." 

Krause says this makes the draft standard unachievable. While some say watering down soil and roads would help, he argues that would use scarce water. Still, Krause says EPA could come out with a proposed new dust standard in a matter of weeks.

"The next step would be for EPA to try to come up with some proposed ambient air quality standard," Krause said. "They're required by law to review these standards every five years and this is part of their normal review for particulate matter. So the next step would be to come out with a proposal probably sometime this fall." 

Other farm groups have weighed in against a standard they feel producers simply can't meet.