Goehring says EPA Dust Decision Welcome

BISMARCK -- Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said a declaration by federal officials that no plans are underway to regulate dust from agricultural operations is welcome news for North Dakota farmers and ranchers.

"The very real possibility that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could use existing rules and regulations under the Clean Air Act to govern dust from farming and ranching operations was a matter of grave concern to our producers," Goehring said Monday.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson informed a group of U.S. Senators and Representatives of Congress that the agency is sending a regulatory proposal to the Office of Management and Budget that retains the current PM10 standard on dust.

Goehring said he was told of Jackson's decision by EPA Region 8 Administrator James Martin, Denver.

"Just last week, Mr. Martin was here in North Dakota at my invitation to hear from producers about EPA policies and plans," Goehring. "The dust issue was high on the list at both the public forums in Mandan and Fargo. I am glad the matter is settled for now."

Goehring said he does not believe the issue is dead.

"I believe this decision was based in part by the firm opposition by members of Congress, who in turn were hearing from producers and agricultural organizations and state officials," he said. "It is very important that we continue to monitor this issue and all regulatory issues facing agriculture."