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No farm dust rule changes -- EPA

Jeff Caldwell 10/17/2011 @ 11:08am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The current rule for dust from farms is good enough as it is now, the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told lawmakers in a letter late last week.

In a letter dated Friday, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told  Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate ag committee, the current rule for dust, or "particulate matter" (PM) has the scientific backing to make it suffice in its protection of human health from farm dust.

"It is important that a standard for particulate matter be protective of the health of the public. 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 PM 10 standard and form when it is sent to OMB for interagency review," Jackson said in her letter to Stabenow.

The decision means that, contrary to what he calls a "common myth," rules on dust created on farms won't be tightened, says David Bryan of the EPA regional office for Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.


"EPA has repeatedly said that it has no plans to tighten this regulation. As further proof and upon careful consideration of the scientific record, analysis by Agency scientists, and advice from the independent Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, EPA [Friday] wrote Congress that it is prepared to propose to keep the current standard for PM10 when it is sent to OMB for interagency review," Bryan says. "EPA hopes that this action finally puts an end to the myth that the Agency is planning to tighten this regulation which has been place since 1987."

Here's Jackson's full letter:


The Honorable Debbie Stabenow
United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Stabenow:

Thank you for your inquiry on the status of EPA's Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter. Particulate matter includes fine particles (known as PM2.5) and coarse particles (known as PM1 0). PM2.5 can come from fossil-fuel combustion, including power plants and motor vehicles, and wildfires and PM1 0 can come from construction and demolition activities, industrial operations, wildfires, and dust from unpaved roads. It is well established that particulate matter emissions are linked to premature death and numerous adverse health impacts.

We have been making steady progress in reducing emissions of particulate matter-both fine and coarse--in this country for more than two decades, improving the public health of Americans while the economy has continued to grow.

It is important that a standard for particulate matter be protective ofthe health of the pUblic. 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 PM 10 standard and form when it is sent to OMB for interagency review.

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