Judy Fahys and Thomas Burr at the Salt Lake Tribune have a story up as of yesterday regarding a new bill that has wended its way through the US House of Representatives:
Utah's three representatives supported the "Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act," which passed by a convincing 268 to 150 in the GOP-dominated House, but likely faces tougher going in the Senate, controlled by Democrats.
...Some say the bill would stymie the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ability to protect public health from dust pollution.
Let's pause for a moment here.
God alone knows it hasn't been an easy run for the staff of the Salt Lake Tribune. "Utah's independent news source since 1871" (independent compared to the Mormon Church-owned Deseret News) was bought by MediaNews Group in the 90s - due to my mom's past life in journalism, we've heard a lot of hard times stories from a lot of family friends as the newspaper business in general has tanked.
With that in mind, I'm going to cut Judy and Thomas some slack and pretend that the loathsome "some say" meme is iron-clad editorial policy at the Trib and not their mistake.
"Some say?" Well, that's nice, but what's actually true?
It's not as though it's a matter of speculation how the bill affects the EPA. I mean, for Christ's sake, the Hill reports that "The Farm Dust Prevention Act, H.R. 1633, ...would prevent the EPA from issuing any new rule over the next year that regulates coarse particulate matter, or 'nuisance dust.'"
So it's a little more than "some say," it's a little more like "actually is." Anyway.
On the House floor, Rep. Henry Waxman singled out Kennecott Utah Copper as he criticized Republicans for refusing to limit the bill to agriculture and undercutting the EPA's ability to protect health.
"The company's mining activities are the single largest source of particulate pollution in Utah and a big reason why the 1 million residents of Salt Lake County breathe unhealthy air," the California Democrat said.
"This bill would exempt all particulate matter pollution from the Kennecott mine and all other mines from the entire Clean Air Act," Waxman added. "Let's be honest, the reason industrial mining operations are pushing this bill has nothing to do with protecting family farms."
|"Farm Dust," right|
Question: why would the House of Representatives, a body ostensibly staffed by humans with soft, pink lungs, pass such a profoundly anti-lung piece of legislation? Answer: are you an idiot?
So Kennecott-Rio-Tinto bought themselves a nice, greasy exemption from the House regarding particulate pollution - excuse me, "farm dust." Let's see how well-oiled the Senate is.