Bill Description: This legislation would raise the ozone level threshold to increase the number of times open burning on farms is permitted.
Analysis: Idaho follows federal guidelines for burning crop residue. The state uses National Ambient Air Quality Standards to measure ozone levels in the air. These standards are maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies across the country. These largely blanket regulations vary in their effect, county to county, state to state. The ozone regulation is particularly important to grass seed farmers in northern Idaho, who rely on burning their fields to stimulate the soil and increase production.
Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market?
These regulations pose a significant challenge to many farmers, especially in rural Idaho, where background ozone levels are higher. Current law sets the ozone threshold at 75 percent of the standard. Anything higher and farmers cannot burn crops. Even on the best of days farmers are often not permitted to burn their fields. Idaho, however, is expecting the EPA to grant an exception raising the threshold to 90 percent of the standard. This bill along with the federal exception would free farmers in instances where their burning would not create a problem. (+1)
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