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Mr. Chair, today, my Republican colleagues missed an opportunity to pass targeted, nonpartisan legislation to protect farmers and small businesses from unnecessary federal regulation.
There is widespread and bipartisan agreement that "farm dust,'' dust produced during activities on farms and ranches, should not be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. The EPA doesn't want to regulate it. And Members of Congress do not want the EPA to regulate it, myself included.
But instead of writing legislation to codify a simple ban on regulating farm dust--legislation that would have won my support and the support of most of my Democratic colleagues--the Majority wrote a bill creating major loopholes in the Clean Air Act that would have significant consequences for public health and the environment.
H.R. 1633 imposes a blanket, one-year moratorium on any regulation updating the national ambient air quality standards applicable to all coarse particulate matter, which includes: fly ash, diesel soot, asbestos, arsenic, lead, mercury, and heavy metals.
None of these harmful toxins are defined as farm dust. Yet, this far-reaching bill would prohibit EPA from protecting American families from these harmful toxins for at least a year.
H.R. 1633 would also exempt major industrial activities, including open-pit mining and aluminum smelters, from EPA's review. Again, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, and mercury--all particulates emitted from mines and industrial activities--would be exempt from federal oversight, even though they have nothing to do with ``farm dust.''
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not regulate farm dust. The EPA has no plans to start regulating farm dust. And, if the EPA ever proposed regulations for farm dust, I would vociferously oppose them and sponsor legislation to prevent their implementation.
But that's not the bill before the House today. The bill before the House today is a distraction from the most pressing issue facing our country and economy: jobs, jobs, and jobs.
Mr. Chair, I support a ban on regulating farm dust. That's common sense. But I do not support creating Clean Air Act loopholes for big industry under the guise of helping small farmers and businesses. I am voting no on H.R. 1633.
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