The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied this week a petition by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and other groups for review of the EPA rule that regulates dust under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The regulation of ag dust means activities ranging from soil tilling, cattle movements in feedyards, driving on unpaved roads, and planting and harvesting crops could all come under EPA regulation.

Calling regulation of ag dust under the CAA “completely unjustified,” Tamara Thies, NCBA chief environmental counsel, said, “…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.”

EPA released a final rule on regulating particles in the air under the CAA in October 2006, which says states should focus on regulating dust in urban, rather than rural, areas because of a lack of scientific data on health or environmental effects of ag dust. But because EPA stopped short of exempting ag dust from regulation, NCBA filed an appeal of the rule. Oral arguments were held Sept. 15, 2008.

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