Ruling on dust regulation disappoints N.C.B.A.

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – On Feb, 24, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision to deny a petition for review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule regulating dust under the Clean Air Act. The petition was filed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and other groups.

"We are very disappointed with the court’s decision," said Tamara Thies, N.C.B.A. chief environmental counsel. "There is no scientific evidence that agriculture dust causes adverse health effects, and its regulation under the Clean Air Act is completely unjustified."

N.C.B.A. further explained that the regulation of agriculture dust means that activities ranging from soil tilling, cattle movements in feedyards, driving on unpaved roads and planting and harvesting crops could all come under the regulatory strong-arm of the E.P.A.

"Our producers already carry out stringent dust-control measures each and every day," Ms. Thies said. "But the requirements imposed by E.P.A.’s rule are simply unnecessary and unattainable. In today’s tough economic times, this unwarranted and burdensome government interference could prove to be devastating for America’s cattle producers."

In October 2006, E.P.A. released a final rule on regulating particles in the air under the Clean Air Act, which says states should focus on regulating dust in urban areas instead of rural areas because of a lack of scientific data on health or environmental affects of agriculture dust. However, the E.P.A. stopped short of exempting agriculture dust from regulation. As a result, N.C.B.A. filed an appeal of the rule in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments were held on Sept. 15, 2008.

"The Clean Air Act is intended to regulate pollutants that cause adverse health or environmental effects," Ms. Thies said. "Clearly, expanding this to include the regulation of agriculture dust goes beyond the intent of the Act."

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