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NAHB Tells EPA Leaders to Reject Proposed Dust Standard

NAHB staff met with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson last week to relay the concerns of association members with the agency’s proposed standard for coarse particulate matter.

If approved, the rule would add complicated, contradictory mandates at the job site for builders working in areas with a population of 100,000 or more.

The proposal to regulate “crustal fugitive dust emissions” — or common dirt — assumes that sand and dust stirred up from construction sites are more dangerous than dust from other sources, such as farming or even windstorms. NAHB sent comments to the agency opposing the proposal in April. (For a related NBN story, see click here.) The EPA, meanwhile, is under court order to complete the standard by Sept. 27.

In its meeting with Johnson, NAHB representatives focused on four reasons the proposal should be rejected:

  • The proposed standard, which focuses only on urban areas, is inconsistent with EPA’s statutory obligations to promulgate national standards.

  • The science presented does not support the conclusion that the standard is necessary.

  • There is no rationale for differentiating between urban and rural course particles.

  • The proposed standard would preempt state and local authority to devise implementation plans, compliance strategies and air monitoring programs appropriate for their areas.

NAHB’s argument on the scientific justification for the standard was of special interest to EPA, Johnson said at the meeting, because the agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee found the opposite to be true.

The distinction between agricultural and construction dust makes no sense, according to Gary Suskauer, an NAHB environmental policy analyst who attended the meeting. “There is no difference between the dust generated by a farmer’s tractor one day and by a bulldozer on the same site the next day when it is being converted into a housing development. It is the same dust.”

NAHB will continue to work with the state and local home builders associations that would be most affected by the proposed rule to encourage EPA to change its position, he said.

For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.

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