WASHINGTON – Cattlemen and women discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's recent policy assessment for particulate matter (dust) with their respective lawmakers during the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Legislative Conference held Sept. 14-16 in Washington. They encouraged their elected leaders to sign a letter led by US Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) expressing concerns regarding EPA's stringent regulations void of science and reality.

Their efforts paid off, according to NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Tamara Thies. "Due in part to our members speaking up, a bipartisan group of 75 lawmakers signed the letter issuing concern about the draft policy assessment EPA released in July," Thies said. "It would be virtually impossible for many critical US industries to comply with this standard, even with use of best-management practices to control dust. All of us certainly want to keep our communities healthy, but this is nothing more than the everyday dust kicked up by a car driving down a dirt road, and it has long been found to be of no health concern at ambient levels."

The July draft policy assessment "lays the foundation for establishing the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation's history," the lawmakers wrote EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Monday, Sept. 27, 2010. "We urge the EPA to refrain from going down this path."

The lawmakers wrote they are "hopeful common sense will prevail and EPA will refrain from causing extreme hardships to farmers, livestock producers, and other resource-based industries throughout rural America."

US Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) held a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee last week to express concerns directly to Jackson.

"There's a feeling out in the country that you walked in, the president walked in, and every idea for more regulation was dusted off and cut loose and agriculture is under attack," said US Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). "That's how people feel."

Thies spoke on behalf of US cattle producers during a forum for House members regarding EPA's actions on Sept. 28. "Farmers and ranchers could be fined for everyday activities like driving a tractor down a dirt road or tilling a field," Thies said. "It would effectively bring economic growth and development to a halt in many areas of the country. We are talking about jobs here. I will speak firmly against EPA's attempt to regulate our members out of business. This needs to stop now."