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EPA regulating “dust” on farms in Bradley County via the Clean Air Act

In Farmers, Uncategorized on October 7, 2011 at 8:09 AM

Marshall Dillon riding out of Dodge City on a dusty autumn eve, coyotes whelping in the background, the movie credits crawling down the big screen! As the scene ends “dust fills the screen and the Marshall disappears in a heap of dust as he has done another good deed and he returns to his camp for an evening meal! Who knew this would eventually become a crime?
Forward 120 years the Marshall is handcuffed and brought to his knees with gun slinging EPA types on a tear with federal badges shining and guns gleaning down on him as the EPA begins to spout the New Clean Air Act upon him…..your dust behind your horse, sir, is greater than 150 micrometers per cubic meter and you are going to pay enormous fines, lose your ranch and or go to jail.
Sound a little far fetched? Perhaps a little theatrical, but the EPA is definitely cracking down on farmers and there is very little you can do about it.
The United States Senate recently wrote a letter to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the US EPA by 21 Senators voicing their concerns regarding the expected regulations the EPA has planned for “dust violations” on our local farms. Some of the Senators that signed this letter most notably are Senators Chuck Grassley, Pat Roberts, Jim Bunning, John Conyers, Sam Brownback and Saxby Chambliss!
In the letter, they started out with concerns regarding the US Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) latest actions in its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) which requires the EPA every five years to review current air standards, under the Clean Air Act.
The second draft policy assessment (PA) for Particulate Matter (PM) released on July 8, 2010 in the Federal Register, if approved, would establish the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nations history.
According to the PA (policy assessment) for Particulate Matter, the EPA would be justified in either retaining the current levels of 150 micrometers per cubic meter for regulating coarse PM or in revising it to as some studies have suggested to levels of 65 to 85 micrometers per cubic meter, ending on the emphasis placed on the evidence and uncertainties. A coarse PM NAAQS of 65 to 85 micrometers per cubic meter would be twice as stringent as the current standard. They go onto say that current standards have been difficult if not impossible to adhere to and would most certainly be difficult to attain with a higher standard.
These identified levels will be extremely burdensome for farmers and livestock producers to attain. Whether it is livestock kicking up dust, soy beans being combined on a dry day in the fall, or driving a car down the road, dust is a naturally occurring event.
Producers could be potentially fined for not meeting the PM standards while practicing good management practices on their soil.
If the EPA publishes a rule that regulates dust at these low levels, excessive dust control measures could be imposed which could slow economic development and impose significant costs to farmers and businesses.
This is my favorite part and it is the last line in this letter and it goes like this “ Common sense requires the EPA to acknowledge that the wind blow and so does dust!”
Can you believe that I am sitting here chuckling and in the same sentence terrified of our Federal Government encroaching on us in this way and are actively fining people such as Kevin Rogers a farmer in Arizona who was recently fined for meeting his “dust quota!” he states “this affects our daily operations, just the fact that I have to go out and evaluate whats going on with the wind!”
Democrats in DC are making this a bipartisan issue and are stating that the EPA regulations are being exaggerated to scare the general public and to promote fear mongering. EPA spokeswoman Betsaida Alcantara said the agency is still reviewing its dust regulations but has “no plans to put stricter standards in place. My interjection here is “the sad part is they exist and are being enforced in the USA!”
“The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to evaluate its standards every 5 years for dust and other particulate matter and to tighten them if necessary to protect public health. Studies have linked particle pollution to a number of health problems including asthma, bronchitis and heart attacks. The EPA must have a public safety issue to enforce greater regulations and you can see they have a few.
A federal appeals court in 2009 turned down an appeal by farm groups for an exemption from dust regulations. An area is allowed to exceed 150 micrometers per cubic meter of air once in a three year period or face stiff fines. Average annual maximum levels at locations such as Sioux City, Iowa and Brookings South Dakota, typically vary from 60 to 80 micrograms , though dust pollution in the Brookings area spike at 120 micrograms in 2008 according to the EPA!
Do you realize what these regulations mean on our farmers? The farmers are being held to federal regulation because of an act of God! Dust from the Earth blowing onto their farm and they get fined heavily for it! Its absurd but happening very frequently!
The EPA rarely mentions the monitoring system that must be in place on every farm to fully enforce these regulations! That is another encroachment on your private property and warrants a separate blog that would make this one too lengthy for comfortable consumption!
Areas in Arizona and California including the smoggy San Joaquin Valley have been in violation of the 150 microgram limit for years, which is now affecting farmers like Rogers who are facing restrictions and fines on how they farm, because of dust!
The biggest beef that most farmers have today is from a study done by the EPA in April that suggests the agency would be justified in reducing the allowable limit for dust as low as 65 micrograms.
The EPA under pressure from farm groups and Senators like Chuck Grassley R, Iowa, who with others have proposed a bill to block the EPA from regulating dust, have announced it would set aside any decisions to change the regulations till 2013 and announced it would miss a September 30 deadline for issuing rules for green house gas emissions also.
The EPA has said on more than one occasion said that the farms cannot be exempt from farm dust regulations, but fall short on explaining why not.
Farm Regions found to be in violation of particulate limits are being given time to come up with plans for reducing the pollution. For example in the Phoenix area farmers can pick from several options to curb their pollution risk.
They can park their tractor when the wind is blowing harder than 20 mph, put gravel down or pave roads, limit the number times a field is tilled, minimize traffic on the farm, wet the fields or roads, don’t encourage the animals to kick up dust, not run multiple vehicles on the farm when the wind is blowing, opt not to work the farm when the wind is blowing, harvest on non windy days and work harder after a rain or heavy dew!
Mr Rogers who seems to have been made the example of how things are not to be done says he shouldn’t have to park his tractor on a windy day as he has been forced to do several times this year. He went on to say that “its been a great inconvenience and it shouldn’t have to be that way.”
What is our country coming to when we cant work our own land that has in some instances been worked for hundreds of years with no federal intervention or harassment. What has become of our society when we have allowed the Feds the easy access onto our property and told us that because the wind is blowing and dust from mother earth happens to be in the air we cant make a living to feed our families. Something is deathly wrong with this logic.
We must stand and say “feds stay off my private property, you have no business getting into my business on my own land!”
Marshall Dillon, I don’t know if he ever rode off into a sunset or kicked up a lot of dust in Dodge City, but I do know our forefathers are swirling up the dust up turning in their graves and are facing some heavy fines!!!”

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