Sep 17, 2010  |  Today's News |  Legislation & Regulation

The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is at it again, this time proposing extremely stringent regulations for particulate matter, or what you and I would probably call dust.

Illinois Corn commented on the US EPA’s latest fad on Corn Corps over a month ago, but the issue is still at the forefront in the minds of several US Congressmen.

Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming continues to put together a coalition letter to US EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, with Illinois Congressman Tim Johnson, Congressman Aaron Schock, and Congressman John Shimkus currently signing.  The letter eloquently states that the US EPA is considering laying a foundation for “establishing the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation’s history.”  Further, the co-signers will “urge the EPA to refrain from going down this path.”

Interestingly enough, right in the middle of these dust regulation discussions is science.  In terms of public health and according to the US EPA’s own policy assessment, the science justifies leaving the standard as it is.  But this is not the first time, nor does it appear it will be the last, that the EPA has disregarded science.

The US EPA has disregarded science when it comes to the RFS 2 and the concept of indirect international land use change.  At most, given the scientific debate that surrounds the issue, the concept needs more vetting, not regulation that accepts it as scientific fact. 

The US EPA has disregarded science related to the safe use of atrazine.  In the face of over 6,000 global studies that prove atrazine’s safety, the US EPA has chosen to review the chemical yet again because, according to them, public sentiment and media have asked for it.  Since when does media coverage and PR direct environmental policy? 

The US EPA has disregarded science related to higher blends of ethanol.  Studies show that cars will not be adversely affected by a five percent change in ethanol from what cars are using now, yet the US EPA arbitrarily decided to consider the higher blend for only model years 2001-current.

And now, yet again, science seems to be on the back burner.

Of course, science aside, reality needs to be a factor in dust regulation as well.  Not only will more stringent dust regulation not better public health, but it is also an unobtainable goal.  There are rural areas all over this country with dirt roads, dirt fields, and dirt pastures.  What are farmers to do if someone drives or walks over the dirt?

The Lummis letter concludes with a telling statement to Administrator Jackson.  “Dust is a naturally-occurring event in rural areas.  Common sense requires the EPA to acknowledge that wind blows dust around in these areas, and that is a fact of life.”

Is it too much to ask our policy makers and regulators to utilize a little common sense and science?