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Congresswoman McCollum's Statement on Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act (H.R. 1633)

December 8, 2011
Statements For the Record

Mr. Speaker, I rise to strongly oppose H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act. Regrettably, the House Republican majority is choosing to waste precious floor time debating this political statement instead of allowing a vote on President Obama's American Jobs Act.

Contrary to the claims of my Republican colleagues, H.R. 1633 has nothing to do with job creation or economic growth. This legislation addresses a nonexistent issue since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated repeatedly it has no intention of regulating "farm dust."

However, it cannot be said that H.R. 1633 would have no effect. This legislation creates new loopholes that allow open-pit mines, gravel mines, smelters and coal-processing facilities to escape public-health protections under the Clean Air Act. Enactment of this legislation would result in more pollution leading to more premature deaths, asthma attacks, respiratory disease and heart attacks. House Republicans say they are standing up for family farmers when in fact they are aiding corporate polluters.

While the Minnesota family farmers I have heard from have serious challenges, they assure me that farm dust is far down on their list of priorities. Their real concerns relate to rising costs for seed, fertilizer, land, rent and machinery. They worry about protecting their land for the next generation in the face of federal cuts to conservation programs. They struggle with consolidation in the agricultural sector and the ability of the biggest farms to expand at the expense of smaller ones. Political debates in Washington about farm dust are not a factor in their lives.

H.R. 1633 is just another veiled Republican assault on our nation's landmark clean air laws. I urge my colleagues to reject this bill and return our attention to the real problems that are impacting job growth in our economy.