Herman Cain Repeats EPA Dust Myth


Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is worried that the EPA is going to regulate farm dust. So worried, in fact, that he pledged to eliminate the EPA during Thursday’s presidential debate.

“It’s out of control,” Cain said. “The fact that they have a regulation…to regulate dust…says they’ve gone too far.”

Cain’s not alone in this (mistaken) belief that the Obama EPA is going to issue fines on dirt. It’s one of the tea party-right’s favorite EPA conspiracy theory. Sadly, it’s not true. Despite much outrage on this subject in Congress, the agency has said repeatedly that it isn’t issuing new rules on dust.

Yes, the EPA is revisiting its dust standards—but those standards have been in place since 1987. In April, the EPA issued an evaluation of particulate matter pollution standards, because the report is a requirement under the Clean Air Act. And while the report suggested that dust standards should be tightened, the EPA has no plans to “regulate” dust any time soon.

The EPA certainly isn’t going to do so by January 2012, as Cain falsely claimed. Even if they intended to, the rule-making process would take a lot longer than that. And, for whatever it’s worth, the Bush administration EPA actually did issue dust regulations.

  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.

Members like you

Mother Jones is a nonprofit, and stories like this are made possible by readers like you. or to help fund independent journalism.