Last updated on 2013.03.25
Rep. Kristi Noem's zombie dust bill wins South Dakota some more embarrassment from her Congressional colleagues. On Capitol Hill yesterday, Rep. Henry Waxman referred to Noem's dogged desire to deflect non-existent EPA dust regulations as "nonsense" and "pure fantasy." Rep Ed Markey found Noem's bill so silly that he asked an EPA official to vow for the record that the EPA would also resist the urge to regulate fairy dust and pixie dust.
Noem's own prepared remarks were another second-rate exercise in stitching buzzwords together and screaming "Regulation is bad!" She tries to twist the words of her opponents, saying, "I'd like to clear up the myth that EPA currently does NOT regulate farm dust." Sorry, Kristi, but no one is saying that. We know the EPA does include farm dust in its Clean Air Act standards. The fear-mongering myth your legislation perpetuates is that the EPA is planning to impose new regulations on farm dust, regulations the EPA has endlessly vowed are not in the works.
Noem's fantasy goes beyond imagining the EPA has some new, terrible rules in the works. Noem wants us to believe that farm dust is somehow different from urban dust. She says she supports regulations on dust in urban areas, but she wants to strip the EPA of the ability to regulate dust in rural areas:
This type of dust is naturally occurring and includes soil, windblown dust, and dust coming from dirt roads. I call it farm dust. This is completely different than the type of dust typical in urban areas which has been shown to have adverse health effects. I want to be clear that we are not talking about areas where there may be health concerns related to particulate matter. My legislation specifically focuses on rural dust and allows the standard to apply unchanged to urban areas. Farm dust is a fact of life in rural America and, unlike urban dust, has not been shown to be of a significant health concern. Including farm dust in the NAAQS regulations causes great concern and uncertainty for farmers and other resource based industries in rural America [Rep. Kristi Noem, prepared testimony, U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, 2011.10.25].
Kristi Noem's dust de-regulation bill threatens rural health and environmental quality, It would give not just farmers but power plants and other businesses license to pollute the countryside. Noem and her legislation deserve all the pixie-dust scorn we can dish out.