The National Cotton Council, along with other agricultural interests, has signed a letter to leadership of the House and Senate, as well as relevant committee leaders, in support of the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 1633, S. 1528).

These bills would prohibit the EPA Administrator from proposing, finalizing, implementing or enforcing any regulation that would revise the national primary ambient air quality standard or the national secondary ambient air quality standard applicable to particulate matter (PM) with a diameter greater than 2.5 micrometers under the Clean Air Act (CAA) for one year.

The bills also would define "nuisance dust" as PM: (1) generated from natural sources, unpaved roads, agricultural activities, earth moving or other activities typically conducted in rural areas; or (2) consisting primarily of soil, other natural or biological materials, windblown dust, or some combination thereof.

Nuisance dust would be exempted from CAA regulations unless EPA finds that: (1) nuisance dust causes substantial adverse public health and welfare effects at ambient concentrations; and (2) the benefits of applying CAA standards and other requirements to such dust outweigh the costs.

H.R. 1633 has 114 co-sponsors and been reported favorably out of subcommittee to the House Energy & Commerce Committee. S. 1528 has 26 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee where no further action has occurred.

Support for these bills comes despite a recent statement by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that she is willing to retain the current PM10 standard.

In a letter to Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jackson said, “Based on my consideration of the scientific record, analysis provided by EPA scientists, and advice from the Clean Air Science Advisory Council, I am prepared to propose the retention with no revision — of the current PM10 standard and form.”

Rural and farm states, particularly those in the West, Midwest, South and Southwest regions of the country have been particularly concerned with EPA’s PM review as most of the PM measured in those areas are coarse PM. Depending on the options under EPA review, numerous counties in these states could have found themselves in non-attainment status and subject to additional control measures.