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Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HURT. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I'd first like to thank Chairmen Upton and Whitfield for this effort and Representative Noem for her leadership and hard work on this legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act. This is a bipartisan bill that I am proud to sponsor, along with Representatives Noem, Boswell, and Kissell, in order to provide greater economic certainty to our rural communities in central Virginia and south side Virginia and across this country.

Since January, this House has been laser focused on advancing policies that will remove the Federal Government as a barrier to job creation and steer us on a course toward economic recovery giving our job creators the opportunity to hire and the confidence to expand. It is with this in mind that we introduced this legislation.

In Virginia's Fifth District, my district, we have a proud heritage in agriculture, manufacturing, Main Street businesses that create jobs and have created jobs for thousands of Virginians. As I travel across Virginia's rural Fifth District, I am constantly reminded by my constituents of how government regulations threaten their businesses and their very way of life. This is why the EPA's national standard for fugitive dust is so troubling to the people that I represent. It is yet another example of the vast expansion of the Federal Government, and it is yet another example of the uncertainty that Washington continues to impose upon our job creators and our rural communities.

The effects of Federal Government overreach are both very real and very tangible in the Fifth District and across this country.

This past year, I spoke with a small business owner in Southside, Virginia, who was warned by a regulator about the amount of dust coming from his property. He was told to take active measures to decrease the dust coming from the dirt road leading into his sawmill.

This is the kind of unnecessary regulation that prevents businesses and farmers from focusing on the needs of their customers. Where I'm from, dust is not a nuisance. Rather, it is a necessary byproduct of the hard work the farmers and businesses in my rural district perform every day, and these farmers and businesses should not suffer losses in production because of overbearing Federal regulations. These are the people who are struggling to survive, to grow, and to create jobs during this stalled economic recovery. These are the people who cannot afford more costly and burdensome regulations handed down by Washington.

While I applaud the EPA's apparent statement that it does not intend to propose a more stringent standard for coarse particulate matter at this time, I remain concerned about the uncertainty of future rulemaking. This bill addresses that uncertainty by providing clarity and stability for our job creators by replacing the current Federal standard for naturally occurring dust in rural America. With unemployment rates nearing 20 percent in some parts of my district, we simply can't afford to perpetuate unnecessary regulations and unnecessary uncertainty for the farmers and businesses in our rural communities.

I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation so that we may assure our farmers and businesses that naturally occurring dust will not be subject to regulations by an ever-expanding Federal Government.


Mr. HURT. I thank the Chairman.

This amendment would allow the EPA to override the State and local regulations and thereby gut the purpose of this bill.

Let's remember what the commonsense purpose of this bill is. There's nothing radical at all about this bill. In fact, in section 3 this bill protects public health. It protects public health by relying on the State and local regulators who are best equipped to make judgments about naturally occurring dust. And it does nothing at all to affect the particulate matter 2.5 standard. I think that's important to note inasmuch as it seems that the opposition seems to want to forget that.

Let's remember the ultimate purpose of this bill, and that is to protect the farmer and the rural businesses from overreaching Federal regulation that causes uncertainty and it causes job loss.

However, the EPA and the opposition talked about the myth. They say that it's more likely that the EPA would regulate fairy dust. They say that this is a solution in search of a problem. But our farmers know better; our rural business owners know better. They know better because they have looked at the proposed regulations and the proposals from the EPA staff that was dated back in April in which they proposed looking at and revising the PM10 standard. They also have seen the letter that was sent to my office in May of this year in which Ms. McCarthy, the assistant administrator, makes it clear that agricultural dust and dust coming off of roads is absolutely within the larger view of these standards. That's what our farmers know.

But most of all, they know their experience. They know what they have endured over the years--over the decades--of what comes out of Washington and how it affects their everyday life. If you look at their track record, you can only see why there is uncertainty and why they believe this is a very, very real threat.

I am proud to be able to travel across my rural district in south side Virginia and central Virginia and talk to farmers. In August, I sat down with a group of farmers in Nelson and Albemarle Counties. One of the farmers that was there is a peach farmer, a fruit grower. He said to me, Mr. Hurt, on my farm, where my family has been for generations growing peaches for our customers, I'm regulated by the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, the FDA, the IRS, the Department of Transportation, the Corps of Engineers, the EPA--and the list goes on when you add the State and local regulators. He said, I'm regulated by all those different agencies, most of them Federal agencies; and all I'm trying to do is grow a peach. How hard can it be?

And I think when you look at the commonsense purpose of this bill, you will see that this amendment would gut it. It is for that reason that I would urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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