WASHINGTON — The prospect of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) moving forward on stricter regulations intended to control dust generated through farming has prompted U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) to caution the agency against any dramatic federal action.
Cochran and Wicker are among a bipartisan group of 33 senators who recently wrote EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to encourage “common sense” when deciding whether to propose new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for coarse particulate matter, more commonly referred to as dust. It has been reported that the EPA could make a decision by summer on whether NAAQS coarse particulate matter standards, or PM10, should be changed.
“I would be surprised if any cost-benefit ratio would show that the Environmental Protection Agency should impose new burdens on farmers, ranchers and rural communities where dust is not only common, but natural,” said Cochran, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
The letter warns that lowering the coarse particulate matter standard could cut into U.S. agriculture production and place new economic burdens on towns and counties to pave or treat unpaved roads. The senators also suggest that the EPA simply retain the current standard, which today requires corrective action if PM10 levels exceed 150 parts per million averaged over a 24-hour period.