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Noem's dust bill clears subcommittee vote

Rep. Kristi Noem's bill to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from creating additional rules on farm dust passed its first hurdle Thursday.

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power passed Noem's bill, H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act, 12-9. It will now move to the full Energy and Commerce Committee.

"Today's vote is a huge win for farmers and ranchers who are concerned about regulatory certainty," Noem said. "Anyone who has driven a combine through a field knows that dust is a part of rural living. It is hard to think of something more symbolic of Washington's regulatory overreach than the potential punishment of farmers and livestock producers for kicking up dust."

Noem, R-S.D., co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa. It passed with an amendment introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., clarifying the definition of nuisance dust to underscore that the bill does not exempt particulate matter generated from combustion, such as from industrial facilities and power plants.

The bill, if passed into law, would prevent the EPA from imposing more stringent federal dust standards. It also exempts nuisance dust from EPA regulation where dust is already regulated under state, tribal, or local law.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has repeatedly said her agency has no intentions of imposing stricter guidelines, and some Democrats have chided Noem for introducing an unnecessary bill.

Noem has said the EPA's standard could change during the rulemaking process or as the result of legal challenges. In fact, EPA made changes to its original dust standard proposals in 1996 and 2006 during the review process.

South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf criticized Noem for her continued focus on the bill.

"Every day that Kristi Noem spends fighting farm dust regulations that don't exist is another day Noem isn't fighting to create jobs," Nesselhuf said in a press release.

"Right now, Congress is deciding the fate of popular agricultural support programs, conservation efforts, and incentives for biofuel production that support thousands of farmers and jobs across South Dakota," he said. "It's time Noem drop her effort to scare farmers and join the conversation concerning real issues facing rural South Dakotans."