Dust In The Wind
Good thing we had a nice little shower this afternoon to help settle the dust. Otherwise, the EPA might be out here arresting my donkeys for kicking up so much airborne particulate. There’s something ironic about mentioning donkeys and the EPA in the same sentence.
You see, that bastion of anti-agricultural sentiment that calls itself the Environmental Protection Agency wants to clamp down on one of rural life’s constant companions – the dust clouds that farm machinery kick up in fields and along unpaved roads.
The Associated Press writes that “farming groups have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retain its current standards for dust, soot and other microscopic particles, arguing that tighter restrictions would be unworkable and that dust isn’t a real pollutant.”
I never thought I’d find myself opposing the American Lung Association, but it’s hard to go along with a group that wants to see oppressively stringent regulations enforced on an industry they – like so many other urbanites – refuse to understand. The ALA is pushing the EPA to tighten up the regs.
Janice Nolen, the group’s assistant vice president for national policy and advocacy, thinks that officials could reduce dust by paving gravel roads and encouraging farmers to grow more of their crops using no-till approaches that reduce the need for tractor work. I doubt Ms. Nolen’s ever been on a farm during a grain harvest, even one where the crop was seeded no-till. You’re still going to have dust. Paving roads is not a bad thing, but does she realize that, if it was left up to us, those roads would already have been paved? And as for on-farm roads, who’s going to step up with the funding to take care of that?
AP says the EPA is expected to release a final document next month spelling out its options for revising the standards. They plan to announce any proposed changes in February, and will likely approve a final updated rule by October 2011. The agency would then determine which areas of the nation don’t meet those new standards.
Unless I miss my guess, there will have to be public hearings regarding this. Farmers, ranchers and their duly elected representatives need to continue to carefully follow this foolishness and use everything within their power to turn this mess around. In other words, it looks like we need to kick up a little dust.