Sunday, March 08, 2009

Sympathizing With NCBA’s Disappointment

C.R. Jolley

The NCBA issued a press release expressing their disappointment in a denial of their petition by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for a review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule that regulates dust under the Clean Air Act.

“We are very disappointed with the Court’s decision,” NCBA Chief Environmental Counsel Tamara Thies said. “There is no scientific evidence that agriculture dust causes adverse health effects, and its regulation under the Clean Air Act is completely unjustified.”

Unjustified and ridiculous. Unfortunately “ridiculous” has no legal standing. Otherwise a whole honeywagon full of decisions by the feds would have deep-sixed a long time ago.

The NCBA release said, “The regulation of agriculture dust means that activities ranging from soil tilling, cattle movements in feedyards, driving on unpaved roads, and planting and harvesting crops could all come under the regulatory strong-arm of the EPA.”

If I understand the possibilities correctly, before you plow the south 40 this spring, you’ll have to make sure the field is sufficiently damp, but not muddy, of course. Yeah, that perfect condition happens all the time. Check the wind sock at the local airport, too, to make sure you know which way the wind is blowing.

Cattle will be forced to stand absolutely still. Any movement that might stir up a little dust will mean a visit from your good friends at the EPA who will deliver a stern lecture and maybe a bill for clean up. Sure glad we don’t have to worry about the dust kicked up by wild horses and other large wild animals that tend to stir up things in rural America.

And driving your tractor down that unpaved farm road? Sorry. You’ll have to wait until the state authorities, flush with all that bail out tax money, pave it over and turn it into 4 lanes of interstate highway, secure in the knowledge that road construction is a dust free enterprise. Dirt roads will be strictly off-limits.

No spreading fertilizer during the growing season. When it comes time to harvest – if there is a crop? Gotta do it with semi-legal campesinos because combines will definitely kick up a lot of dust. With ICE stoutly defending our southern border, though, I don’t know where you’ll find enough people to get the job done.

More from the NCBA’s Theis: “Our producers already carry out stringent dust control measures each and every day. But the requirements imposed by EPA’s rule are simply unnecessary and unattainable. In today’s tough economic times, this unwarranted and burdensome government interference could prove to be devastating for America’s cattle producers.”

And corn producers, hog producers, soy bean growers; the list goes on far into that dusty country horizon. You might conjure up a picture of a saddened John Wayne astride his horse, riding off into the sunset. Except all four hooves would be kicking up little patches of highly illegal and possibly toxic dust clouds.

I’m also wondering what the EPA will do about those thousands of square miles of drought-ridden fields in Texas that are barren. Even a slight wind can create an enormous and now illegal dust storm and the responsibility could fall on the poor rancher who owned the land. That’s a government mandated ‘gotcha’ that is only comprehensible when viewed in the dim light of some even more incomprehensible federal regulations.

"The Clean Air Act is intended to regulate pollutants that cause adverse health or environmental effects," Thies explained. "Clearly, expanding this to include the regulation of agriculture dust goes beyond the intent of the Act."

Clearly. The D.C. Court of Appeals must be staffed by people who’ve never been outside the increasingly tight beltway. The NCBA and friends need to find another court to press their point. Cattle Network

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