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Letter to the Honorable Lisa Jackson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) joined more than 30 Senators in strongly criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for considering a regulation on farm and rural dust.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, co-authored by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Kent Conrad and signed by 29 other Senators, Kirk said EPA review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards "for coarse particulate matter," also known as PM10, or just "dust" could be extremely burdensome on farmers and rural communities.

"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," the Senators wrote.

"Naturally occurring dust is a fact of life in rural America and the creation of dust is unavoidable for the agriculture industry," the letter 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."

"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," the 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."

To see a copy of the letter, please visit here.

February 15th, 2011

To Honorable Lisa Jackson
Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Jackson,

As the 112th United States Congress commences, we write to share with you our continuing concern with the potential regulation of farm and rural dusts through your review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for coarse particulate matter (PM10), or "dust". Proposals to lower the standard may not be significantly burdensome in urban areas, but will likely have significant effects on business and families in rural areas, many of which have a tough time meeting current standards.

Naturally occurring dust is a fact of life in rural America, and the creation of dust is unavoidable for the agriculture industry. 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 our nation's rural economy.

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 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 country 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. 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..

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.

Sincerely,


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