This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) prohibiting federal funds from being used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose stricter limits on “particulate matter”—an air pollutant more commonly known as “soot.” This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
Noem urged support for her amendment: “Anyone who has driven a combine through a field or a pickup down a gravel road knows that dust is a part of rural living. Potentially fining farmers and livestock producers who practice good management with new dust regulations would be excessive and extremely detrimental to our nation's vital agriculture industry….it's hard to think of something more emblematic of Washington's regulatory overreach than the potential punishment of farmers and livestock producers for kicking up a little dust. Expanding the coarse particulate matter standard on dust would be a burdensome regulation for farmers and ranchers. My amendment would prohibit the EPA from using any of the funds made available under this act to modify the standard for coarse particulate matter…Farmers are certainly looking for certainty about the future. Burdening them with greater regulations on dust is excessive and unreasonable.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) opposed the amendment: “…The Noem amendment would prevent the EPA from updating air pollution standards for dangerous soot pollution….If new science has emerged in the last 24 years that shows that soot pollution is more dangerous than we knew 24 years ago, EPA would have to ignore any new scientific findings…. Scientific studies have linked these particles [particulate matter] to a variety of serious health problems, including increased respiratory symptoms in children and premature death in people with heart and lung disease. Why is the [Republican] majority party so afraid of science?...It seems to me we ought to defer to the scientists and respect the public's health. EPA is charged with protecting the public health. They're doing a pretty good job and we ought to let them do it.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 255-168. Voting “yea” were 234 Republicans and 21 Democrats. 164 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 4 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to impose stricter limits on "particulate matter" - an air pollutant more commonly known as "soot."