Facing increased pressure from a regulatory reform-minded Congress as well as affected industries such as aggregates, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signaled it will retain the current Coarse Particulate (PM10) National Ambient Air Quality standard, according to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA).
This is of major importance to NSSGA members because a reduced standard would have required many facilities to cut production, particularly in the arid west and Midwest. In 2010, EPA’s draft policy assessment showed EPA was considering reducing the PM10 standard by half.
NSSGA and its members have worked diligently for the past year to encourage EPA to retain the current standard, including the co-sponsorship of a research paper on the devastating effects of a new standard and meetings with members of Congress and EPA. EPA’s decision means that the current standard will be in place until at least 2016, when EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to review the standard again.
Despite this welcome news that was communicated by EPA in a letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power plans to go forward with a hearing on Rep. Kristi Noem’s (R-S.D.) bill, Farm Dust Regulatory Prevention Act. On the news from EPA Noem commented, “If the EPA has no intention of regulating farm dust then they should support my legislation, which excludes farm dust managed at the state or local level from federal regulatory standards.”
Although Noem’s bill also would exempt natural sources of dust from regulation, NSSGA will testify at a hearing to tell the subcommittee the potentially devastating impact on the aggregates industry if EPA were to lower the standard for coarse particulate matter in the future.