The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed legislation that would restrict the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate coarse particulate matter in rural areas created from unpaved roads and dust resulting from agricultural activities, termed “nuisance dust.”

The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, H.R. 1633,  was co-authored by Representatives Robert Hurt (R-VA) and Kristi Noem (R-SD).  The bill, which supporters say is necessary to ensure that EPA regulations do not interfere with farming activities, passed by a vote of 268-150, with 33 Democrats joining Republicans in voting for the measure.

The legislation would prohibit EPA from proposing changes for one year to the national ambient air quality standards for coarse particulate matter. It also would allow states and localities, not EPA, to regulate farm dust, which includes particulate pollution from agricultural activities.

Rep. Noem, the bill’s sponsor, said during floor debate that the measure does not erase any regulations. Instead, it allows states and localities to decide how best to regulate nuisance dust, saying that “Dust in rural America is not the same as in urban areas.”  The bill requires EPA to notify states and hold hearings if rules would cause 100 job losses or cause at least $1 million in economic losses.

House Republicans put a priority on passing H.R. 1633, which has 121 co-sponsors. It is among a number of bills that Republican leaders have pushed in an effort to block or repeal regulations that could impede job creation

Despite the momentum in the House, the bill’s chances are still unclear in the Democratically -controlled Senate. EPA has repeatedly said it has no intention of regulating “farm dust,” and opponents to the bill say the legislation is unnecessary.  Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) said on the House floor yesterday that the bill is “a magnificent solution to a nonexistent problem.”

 

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