Cattlemen Challenge New EPA Air Standards
WASHINGTON - After reviewing hundreds of pages outlining the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final rule on fugitive dust, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has decided to challenge the rule in court. NCBA filed a petition today in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking review of EPA’s air quality standards that regulate agricultural dust.
The EPA released the rule revising the Clean Air Act National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM) on October 17. NCBA has maintained that there is no scientific evidence warranting the regulation of dust on farms and ranches.
“On livestock operations, dust is produced by tilling soil, planting and harvesting crops, driving on dirt roads, spreading nutrients on fields, mixing feed, and by cattle simply moving around in feedlots. These are examples of the dust that that would be regulated under a coarse PM NAAQS,” says Tamara Thies, NCBA’s director of environmental issues. “Many farms and ranches are simply unable to control dust to the level EPA requires, even when using best management practices. The EPA has put agriculture in an impossible situation, with no scientific justification.”
NCBA submitted extensive comments on the issue, including technical evidence demonstrating that fugitive dust from agriculture operations presents no public health concerns. EPA set the limit at 150 micrograms per cubic meter during a 24-hour period, which is an impossible threshold in naturally dusty and rural landscapes. Even EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee’s (CASAC) Particulate Matter Review Panel recommended excluding rural areas from coarse PM NAAQS regulation.
“Ranchers are experienced in managing air quality and utilizing dust control practices on their ranches,” says Thies. “Dust is – at most – a nuisance issue and should be regulated accordingly. It is not a health issue that warrants regulation at the level that EPA’s rule requires.”