As the Environmental Protection Agency considers regulation to tighten restrictions on dust on rural farms, Sen. Richard Lugar, along with 30 other Senators, condemned the National Ambient Air Quality Standards proposal as not being realistic. He writes:
“Proposals to lower the standard may not be significantly burdensome in urban areas, but will likely have significant effects on businesses and families in rural areas, many of whom have a tough time meeting current standards,” Lugar wrote.
“Naturally occurring dust is a fact of life in rural America and the creation of dust is unavoidable for the agriculture industry,” Lugar and the others continued. “Indeed, with the need to further increase food production to meet world food demands, regulations that will stifle the U.S. agriculture industry could result in the loss of productivity, an increase in food prices, and further stress on our nation’s rural economy.”
Lugar’s letter continued: “Tilling soil, even through reduced tillage practices, often creates dust as farmers work to seed our nation’s roughly 400 million acres of cropland. Likewise, harvesting crops with various pieces of farm equipment and preparing them for storage also creates dust.
“Due to financial and other considerations, many roads in rural America are not paved and dust is created when they are traversed by cars, trucks, tractors, and other vehicles. To potentially require local and county governments to pave or treat these roads to prevent dust creation could be tremendously burdensome for already cash-strapped budgets.”
“While we strongly support efforts to safeguard the wellbeing of Americans, most Americans would agree that common sense dictates that the federal government should not regulate dust creation in farm fields and on rural roads,” Lugar letter concluded. “Additionally, the scientific and technical evidence seems to agree. Given the ubiquitous nature of dust in agricultural settings and many rural environments, and the near impossible task of mitigating dust in most settings, we are hopeful that the EPA will give special consideration to the realities of farm and rural environments, including retaining the current standard.”