Proposed New Dust Rules Are Ludicrous

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Farmers across the nation must be shaking their heads at the sheer ridiculousness of a proposal to further restrict the amount of “farm dust” that they may emit into the air. Farm dust refers to particles of diesel, manure, herbicides, and pesticides found on farms. Scientists employed by the Environmental Protection Agency have recommended a new rule that would be twice as restrictive as the current standard. This rule, if approved, may be in place by as early as 2011.

Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Oklahoma and could be adversely affected by the proposed rule. The EPA has not clarified what farmers would have to do to meet the new standard. Two solutions that were suggested in an article by The Oklahoman are to spray water on the fields to keep dust down or employ no-till or low-till farming techniques. In the same story, an Oklahoma Farm Bureau spokesperson pointed out that low-till farming is already widely used in Oklahoma. Spraying water on the fields might work, but would mean farmers would have to spend more to farm.

Those looking out for agricultural interests in the state have correctly pointed out that weather factors take control of the amount of farm dust in the air out of farmers’ hands and into Mother Nature’s. That means that the EPA is effectively trying to regulate nature itself. Ambient air miles from any human activity would not pass the proposed regulations.

I, for one, am disappointed to see an agency like the EPA, which was created at a time when there was no environmental regulation, go so far as to try and restrict farm dust down to levels that are simply ludicrous. The lack of common sense and balance in such a decision makes me think there needs to be better legislative oversight of this agency on a federal level.

October is 4-H month. I would like to congratulate all local chapters. October also marks the rapidly approaching Nov. 2 elections. This year’s ballot will include 11 state questions, many of which will create vast changes in the way the state is run. The questions can be found on the Oklahoma State Election Board Web site, at http://www.ok.gov/elections/documents/sq_gen10.pdf.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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