77 Fed. Reg. 38890 (June 29, 2012)

Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0492



The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter, 77 Fed. Reg. 38890 (June 29, 2012) (EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0492) (Proposed Rule).  The NAAQS for fine and coarse particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10, respectively) are of critical importance to NDSA members because of the direct impacts the PM10 standard has on agricultural operations in North Dakota, a semi-arid state. 

The NDSA support’s EPA’s proposal to maintain the primary hourly PM10 NAAQS of 150 µg/m3 and opposes EPA’s proposal to lower the primary annual NAAQS for PM2.5 to between 12 µg/m3 and 13 µg/m3 and to add a secondary PM2.5 standard for visibility. This comment focuses on (1) the considerable scientific uncertainties inherent in the studies of public health effects from coarse PM, which provide limited support for a PM10 NAAQS standard at the existing PM10 NAAQS standard of 150 µg/m3, much less a more stringent standard; (2) the importance of assessing the public health effects associated with economic dislocation that would result from any lowering of the PM standard; (3) the illegality and irrationality of the proposed secondary PM2.5 standard addressing visibility; and (4) the myriad compliance concerns raised by the Proposed Rule.


The Proposed Rule Is Critical To Beef Operations in ND

The NDSA is an 83-year-old producer-directed beef cattle trade organization representing nearly 3,000 North Dakota beef producers. The NDSA is an advocate of cattle producers who are stewards of the land and conservationists of the soil, air and water. These beef producers own and operate facilities that produce or contribute to the production of the livestock that provide safe and affordable food to people across the world.

Livestock operations are located in rural areas where the PM emitted is virtually all fugitive particulate matter, referred to as fugitive dust.  Fugitive dust is the result not only of windblown suspension of soil, but the action of hooves on the soil surface.  NDSA submits that the scientific evidence considered by EPA, during both this review and prior reviews of the PM10 standard, does not support regulation of cattle operations.  Furthermore, emission measurements for such activities are not appropriate or realistic.    

Any reduction in the current PM10 standard would inappropriately target areas where rural coarse PM dominates without any evidence that exceedances of the current standard pose a risk to public health.  The effect of more stringent PM10 and PM2.5 standards on both energy and commodities markets, not to mention the communities and ancillary business that depend on agriculture, would be substantial and would send ripple effects throughout the economy. 


EPA Has Set Unrealistic Timelines for Completion of This Rulemaking

Finally, the consent decree that EPA entered into in order to propose this rule will dramatically and unrealistically shorten the time allowed for the EPA to consider and evaluate public comments on the proposed PM NAAQS revisions, in comparison to the amount of time the EPA historically has taken to consider the voluminous and technically detailed public comments on NAAQS rulemakings as well as the amount of time the EPA has said is needed on this particular rulemaking.  As a result, the consent decree saddles the EPA with an infeasible regulatory deadline, and gives it a strong incentive to provide only a passing and superficial review of comments that do not support the EPA’s proposed modifications to the PM NAAQS.  EPA’s assumption that it can review and evaluate all of the comments; review all new scientific and technical data discussed in the comments; write a notice of final rulemaking explaining and justifying all its decisions in the final rulemaking; respond to relevant comments and arguments; write a response-to-comments document; and coordinate with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in order to obtain clearance under the appropriate Executive Orders to issue the final regulations in under 100 days following the rule proposal is absurd.



The NDSA supports EPA’s proposal to retain the current PM10 standard, but continues to submit the uncertainties surrounding the scientific evidence that call into question the basis for a such standard entirely. Based on the foregoing, the NDSA urges EPA to finalize its proposal to maintain the existing PM10 standard of 150 µg/m3, and to reject the proposals to lower the primary annual NAAQS for PM2.5 and to add a separate secondary PM2.5 standard for visibility.


We appreciate this opportunity to comment. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our office at (701) 223-2522.



Jason Schmidt, President

North Dakota Stockmen’s Association