EPA issued a proposed rule on June 15 that would retain the existing 24‐hour standard for coarse particulate matter (dust). This standard, with a level of 150 μg/m3, has been in place since 1987.

Responding to an outcry from agriculture and Congress, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had stated earlier this year that the agency would not lower the dust standard, which would have put most western counties in a noncompliance state.

In the same proposed announcement, EPA proposed to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter or PM2.5. Fine particles come from a variety of sources, including vehicles, smokestacks and fires. They also form when gases emitted by power plants, industrial processes and gasoline/diesel engines react in the atmosphere. Sources of coarse particles include road dust that is kicked up by traffic, some agricultural operations, construction and demolition operations, industrial processes, and biomass burning.

The NCC is examining the proposal but does not believe that it will affect cotton production. EPA will take comments on the proposed rules for nine weeks and hold public hearings in Philadelphia and Sacramento. The agency will issue final standards by Dec. 14, 2012.