Beef Buzz News
NCBA Remains Vigilant on EPA Dust Standard, Says Election Year Politics Could Play a PartWed, 05 Sep 2012 12:27:34 CDT
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) clearly spelled out its opposition to any attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lower the coarse particulate matter (PM) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) in its official comments submitted to the agency last week.
PM, which includes both urban and rural dust, is regulated under the Clean Air Act. Cattle ranches in arid states can have a difficult time meeting the PM standard due to windblown dust and dust kicked up by cattle movements. Because of arid climates and natural phenomenon, it is difficult for some cattle operations to ensure compliance with the current standard despite the use of best management practices.
Ron Hays spoke with Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, about this issue earlier this summer. Woodall says EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said in the past that the EPA was not seeking to regulate ag dust, but he says the NCBA has remained vigilant.
“This could have some definite election-year politics tied to it. There’s no doubt about it. You know, we’ve been fighting it for a couple of years now and all the iterations of this proposal, a lot of the studies that have gone on behind this. You know, she has told us all along that she doesn’t want to regulate farm dust. The original proposal that we saw does not include farm dust, but until we see the final regs, she has every opportunity possible to change that. And a key date is going to be November 6th. Whatever happens on November 6th will have a huge impact on what she potentially does to make that decision that finalizes that rule which could include ag dust. And that’s why we’re staying on top of it.”
Ashley McDonald, deputy environmental counsel for NCBA says that if EPA chooses to lower the dust standard in the final rule, cattle producers may be faced with increased regulation and other negative consequences.
“A more stringent PM standard will lead to employment impacts and economic dislocation. Current operations have a difficult time meeting the current PM standard and further tightening the standard would have disastrous effects on America’s rural economies,” the comments state, adding that a tougher standard would, “disproportionately affect those very areas where rural, coarse PM predominates and would result in economic dislocation with documented health impacts.”
McDonald made it clear that if the PM NAAQS is further reduced, it will be virtually impossible for current agricultural facilities, including feedlot operations, to demonstrate compliance despite the lack of evidence showing any negative health effects from rural dust at normal levels.
“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 intends to publish a final PM standard by Dec. 14.
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Tamra Thies of the NCBA was riding point on this issue when the EPA made its proposal last year. You can catch her Beef Buzz about how this ball got rolling by clicking here.
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