EPA’s standard serves to protect public health, and consequently focuses monitoring to larger population centers. Yet, of the 15 areas that WildEarth Guardians are targeting, nine have populations with less than 20,000 people. The group wants EPA to clamp down on dust in areas like Parachute (pop. 1,006), Pagosa Springs (pop. 1,591) and Lamar (pop. 8,659), all in Colorado.

These are hardly the population centers in which these standards are meant to focus. By trying to meet additional regulations, these areas will literally have to limit driving on unpaved roads and plowing in fields, while hoping the rain falls and the wind doesn’t blow. Failure could result in loss of federal highway funds, among other consequences.

Bite the dust

Currently, rural dust regulations are blowing in the wind, with many trying to determine which direction they may take. The Farm Bureau-supported Dust Regulation Prevention Act (H.R. 1633 in the House and S. 1528 in the Senate) would help eliminate uncertainty of regulation once and for all.

The legislation would remove naturally occurring dust in rural areas from EPA oversight unless scientific evidence can establish a causal link between rural dust and health effects. EPA admits that scientific evidence at best only “suggests” possible short-term health effects from rural dust, and further admits there is “inconclusive” evidence to show any long-term effects.

Most importantly, passage of the bill would also give certainty to farmers and ranchers that activities, which are natural and integral parts of their farms, are not unduly restricted. They would be protected from being regulated as a result of blowing wind or a lack of rainfall or any other conditions from Mother Nature, over which they have no control.