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Air Quality:
NOW: agriculture best management practices; rules

Our Position: support
Bill Number: HB2208
Sponsor: Reeve
Legislative Session: 2011 Legislative Session

HB2208 NOW: agriculture best management practices; rules (Reeve) addresses coarse particulate pollution in the Phoenix-metropolitan area.

HB2208 allows the Agricultural Best Management Practices Committee to adopt revisions to its rules as exempt rules with an immediate effective date in order to comply with the failure of Maricopa County to attain the air quality health-based standard for coarse particulates – PM-10.  The Best Management Practices (BMPs) for agriculture have been a bit of a joke and certainly weak.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has indicated they need to be enforceable on some level, so this bill requires that they actually implement one of them and that the rules require them to keep records and report. That is an improvement and might result in agriculture doing a bit more to address air quality issues. 

The Floor Amendment on this bill authorizes the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to issue a general permit that includes best management practices (BMPs) designed to control dust on days that are forecasted to be high risk for dust generation.  Entities that currently have a county permit would not be subject to the general permit, but would be required to incorporate dust control measures into their current permit and implement them on high risk days.

 

While we think there is more to be done to address this important public health issue, we are supporting the bill as it moves us one step forward for improving air quality. 

 

Status

To see a detailed status on the bill, click on HB2208.

Action Needed

No action is needed.

Background

The Phoenix metropolitan area was reclassified as a serious PM10 nonattainment area on June 10, 1996.  These coarse particulates are referred to as PM10 as they are 10 microns in size or smaller.  For comparison, the average human hair is about 75 microns.  This area is considered nonattainment, because it does not meet the federal health-based standards for PM10.

The Phoenix area failed to meet its deadline for reducing PM10 pollution and had to develop a special plan, which also failed to meet the standards, so there is now an 18-month window in which to submit a complete plan.  If the Phoenix-area again fails to meet the deadline and meet the health-based standards, then sanctions could be imposed that require two-to-one offsets for the pollution and loss of future federal highway dollars. 

Some people say, “of course we have dust, we live in a desert!”  Dirty air is not inevitable in the Arizona desert, however.  In fact, years ago, asthmatics and people suffering from other respiratory ailments relocated to the Arizona desert because of our clean air.  It is the human disturbance of the natural desert that causes the pollution.

Coarse particulates, PM10, are generated by construction-related activities; vehicular travel; driving on unpaved lots, road shoulders, and roads; as well as off-road vehicles, agriculture, leaf blowers, and other sources. 

Course particulates are a serious threat to human health.  When they are inhaled, they can affect the heart and lungs, damage lung tissue and increase respiratory symptoms, irritation of the airways, coughing, breathing difficulty, and cause premature death.  The elderly, children, and those with respiratory or other health issues are at greatest risk relative to particulate pollution.  A study released in 2009 by Arizona State University showed that when the levels of PM-10 in Central Phoenix were high, there was a significant increase in asthma incidents in children.

     
     

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