Farmers to Bear Brunt of New Clean Air Standards

Published January 1, 1998

EPA is fond of saying that only “big polluters” need fear its new standards for ground-level ozone and particulate matter (PM). However, it turns out that one of the “big polluters” is the “family farm.”

According to a report issued by the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA) and the Association of Local Air Pollution Officials (ALAPCO), farmers qualify as “big polluters” under EPA’s new standards. The report points out that up to 83 percent of all PM emissions covered by EPA’s rule come from agriculture, dirt roads, natural resources, and construction.

Indeed, EPA’s claim that farmers and farm states are not targeted by its latest regulatory action will fall on the deaf ears of those familiar with the Ozone Transport Assessment Group (OTAG). EPA created OTAG in 1995 to address air pollution problems in highly populated states. The group’s solution was to impose tighter air quality controls on rural states to compensate for pollution emanating from urban areas.

How will EPA’s new standards affect the livelihood of farmers and ranchers? The National Center for Public Policy Analysis predicts higher fuel prices (due to fuel reformulation requirements), new taxes on fertilizer, no-till soil preparation expenses, costs associated with mandated reductions in herd sizes, and higher prices for full-size pickup trucks, a staple of American farmers and ranchers.