WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is urging the Environmental Protection Agency to not lower the coarse particulate matter National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The association argued that a higher dust standard could lead to increased regulation and other negative consequences for cattle producers.

“The fact is there is only so much that farmers and ranchers can do to mitigate dust on their operations. Mother Nature controls the rest,” said Ashley McDonald, NCBA deputy environmental counsel. “Our members implement dust control measures, ranging from soil conservation to fugitive dust control plans using best available control measures, which they implement every day of every year in supplying America with the food that it needs.”

Particulate matter includes both urban and rural dust. It is regulated under the Clean Air Act. NCBA said natural phenomena such as windblown dust and dust kicked up by cattle movements make it difficult for some cattle ranches to meet the current standard despite the use of best management practices.

“Over the past 30 plus years, many experienced medical and public health experts in respiratory diseases, epidemiology, toxicology and clinical treatment have noted that coarse PM has never been demonstrated to have adverse health effects at ambient levels,” said McDonald. “The PM standard should be based on sound science. EPA has not presented such evidence; therefore the standard should not be lowered.”

EPA expects to publish a final standard by Dec. 14.