Ted PoeU.S. Representative
[R] Texas, United States

Length: 5 minutes, 3 seconds

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Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, ``Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes.'' Ma and Pa Joad did everything they could to save their farm from slipping away into the dust bowl, but ultimately they lost to a force far greater than any effort they could muster.

Mr. Speaker, though this is just one line ripped from the pages of ``The Grapes of Wrath,'' farmers and ranchers today are facing a modern day dust storm--the wrath of the EPA. Just when you think you've heard it all, bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. come up with some hair-brained idea that leaves you scratching your head in wonderment.

The Environmental Protection Agency has apparently run out of things to regulate and tax so they are considering new guidelines for regulating ``particulate matter emissions''--more commonly known to you and me as ``dust.'' Now, I know what you are thinking, this just cannot be true. What kind of crazy scheme is this? Well, the EPA ``Dust Police'' would specifically regulate farm dust. Farmers would be required to have dust collectors on their harvesters, planters, combines, and haying equipment.

But my personal favorite is the crackdown on dust created from driving a pickup truck down a dirt or gravel road. I am not making this up. The Federal Government is considering farm dust regulations that are caused from driving on a dirt road.

So I thought, well, maybe this is just some backdoor attempt to rid America of our majestic four-wheel-drive pickups that liberals loathe so much and find some way to force these battery-operated toy cars on the rest of us.

But the new proposals don't just apply to dust created from driving. No, they are fair and they are balanced in their overreaching authority. Farmers and ranchers are going to have to somehow limit the dust created by livestock on their property as well.

So, say Bessie the cow kicks up too much dust running over to your pickup truck at feeding time. The EPA is going to fine you for Bessie's misconduct. You need to move your cattle to another pasture during the daytime? Well, don't do it on a dry day because they may kick up too much dust.

The Dust Police solution is to manage dusty dirt roads with water, or--get this--pave them with asphalt. Now, this is another can of worms.

Every farmer and rancher will have the ``Water Police'' raining down on them by the time the first drop hits the dirt. I would think EPA would be aware of the fact that we already have a shortage of water on ranches and farms in our country. But make no matter to them, they still want you to control it.

And what about this paving the asphalt over these roads? Really, they can't be serious. Aside from the sheer magnitude of this undertaking, the idea is completely unfeasible and it's cost prohibitive.

The absurdity of these types of Federal regulations is what makes normal Americans all across our country frustrated with Washington, D.C.

I will say there is a little good news on the horizon. We're not all out of touch here in Congress. My colleague, Representative Kristi Noem from South Dakota, filed an amendment to the continuing resolution last week to eliminate funding to the EPA to enforce the dust regulations. I'm proud to say that this passed the House of Representatives, and it's now down the hallway with the Senate. Let's see what they do.

This type of Federal meddling is exactly what causes businesses to go out of business, lay off workers, and in many cases fail. These types of expensive regulations will finally shut the barn door on the American rancher and farmer for good.

I understand that dust may seem like a serious threat to someone who has never been outside the EPA's marble Potomac palaces or elite castles of academia. But let's use some common sense here. Farmers and ranchers are the best environmentalists in our country. No one respects the land or animals more than those who actually live on it and depend on it for a living.

Instead of burying us in ridiculous regulations that do nothing to improve the quality of life or the environment, the government should look for incentives to encourage farmers and ranchers to produce more, not less. We don't need the EPA-inflicted dust bowl to devastate the American heartland. [Page: H1462] The EPA should just head on down the road and leave this regulation in the dust.

And that's just the way it is. END