the Environmental Protection Agency mucking with.
“The regulatory burden under this administration has just gone crazy,” Romney said, adding later that administration officials “of course want to regulate dust.”It's the kind of campaign event sound bite that gets heads nodding: "Can you believe it? The government wants to regulate dust on farms. Outrageous."
Except it's not. Because the Environmental Protection Agency has been regulating farm dust for a quarter century. The issue is actually whether that regulation should be toughened. A year ago, the agency made clear that it wasn't going to do so. But facts are never allowed to intervene when Romney is on the stump.
Every five years, the EPA is required under provisions of the Clean Air Act to reassess its rules regarding matters like farm-dust emissions. It was engaged in that routine process a year ago when a staff report mentioned "maintaining or tightening" and Republicans went nuts. This was, they said, just another example of the agency's "over-regulation."
They and constituents poured a deluge of complaints into the EPA's in-box. More to the point, they sought to get legislation, in the form of the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act introduced by Stephen Fincher, a Republican from Tennessee. It would have delayed any EPA consideration of farm dust rules. But the bill, which passed the House of Representatives with the help of 33 Democratic votes, was about more than dust from unpaved farm roads or plowing. A House panel voting along partisan lines had added toxic dust from open-pit mining, lead smelters and chemical and industrial facilities to the bill's list of what would be barred from EPA oversight.
Clever subterfuge, eh?
Ultimately, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson sent a letter to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the Michigan Democrat:
“Based on my consideration of the scientific record, analysis provided by EPA scientists, and advice from the Clean Air Science Advisory Council, I am prepared to impose the retention—with no revision—of the current [coarse particulate matter] standard and form when it is sent to OMB for interagency review.”That, and months of previous statements to that effect by Jackson, should have ended matters. But not when the horrors of farm-dust regulation can provide such a good campaign blurp for Romney.