Imaginary Farm Dust Regulation

December 9th, 2011 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Imaginary Farm Dust Regulation

You couldn’t make this stuff up if you wanted to, but this is how our Congress is spending its time. From Michael McAuliff of the Huffington Post:

A bill to ban a farm dust regulation that the federal government has never proposed passed the House of Representatives yesterday on a party line vote with all Republicans voting in favor of the bill. The bill, entitled the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011, was designed to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from writing a rule that would require farmers to take steps to control dust from their land. But there’s just one problem – no such rule even exists. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said repeatedly that no such rule is in the works. What the EPA does do is review ambient air pollution standards every five years, as required by law, and make recommendations on whether or not to tighten standards.

“We have spent an entire day debating about a bill that does not address an existing problem,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.). “This entire session of Congress has felt to many of us like a trip into Alice’s Wonderland,” said DeGette. “To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat, ‘We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad . . . You must be mad or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Republicans have admitted that although no rule was proposed, they are concerned that someone, someday, might file a lawsuit to regulate farm dust. The irony is that the bill doesn’t actually address “farm dust”. Instead it defines what is called “nuisance dust,” which essentially is soot and other particulate matter. An early version of the bill would have allowed the inclusion of rural power plants and incinerators in the definition of sources of particulates exempt from regulation. Language was added to leave out such sources, but the bill would still bar from regulation things like open pit mines and asbestos mines.

So, just to recap – the legislation intends to stop proposed regulation that hasn’t, in reality, been proposed. Yep, there you have it. Fortunately, this bill will go nowhere in the Senate, but with legislation that could be put forward these days that would actually matter and make a difference in the lives of Americans, it seems not only crazy, but irresponsible for elected officials to be wasting their time fighting off something that doesn’t even exist. And keep in mind that if this bill ever were to become law, the end result simply makes it easier to pollute our air.

This is why we can’t have nice things.