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Noem-supported dust bill moves ahead

Rep. Kristi Noem

The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act by a vote of 33-16 Wednesday.

The legislation was authored by Reps. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, and is co-sponsored by about 115 Republicans and Democrats.

The bill aims to protect farmers, ranchers and rural businesses from uncertainty regarding the current and future regulation of rural dust. Specifically, it would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from changing its standard for coarse particulate matter for one year and would exempt "nuisance dust" from federal regulation where such dust is already regulated under state, tribal or local law.

"I'm pleased to see the momentum behind this common-sense bill that would stop any new job-destroying rules from the EPA to further regulate dust," Noem said. "If you've ever been on a farm or ranch, you know that dust is simply a part of doing business. I hope this bill is brought to the House floor soon so we can get one step closer to providing American agriculture with the regulatory certainty they need."

The bill has been sharply criticized by many Democrats -- including Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D. -- and the EPA, who've said multiple times that agricultural dust is under no threat of stricter regulation. Some have alleged that the bill was introduced only for political gain ahead of an election year.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, its state affiliates, and about 185 organizations support the bill.