The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has commissioned a student-led study "to perform research and develop preventative technology that will reduce fine particulate emissions (PM2.5) from residential barbecues."
While intended to reduce "air pollution as well as health hazards in Southern California," the EPA said it expects "to limit the overall air pollution PM (particulate matter) emissions from barbecuing and to alleviate some of the acute health hazards that a barbecue pit master can experience from inhalation."
The $15,000 project is expected to wrap up on Aug. 14, after studying various aspects of barbeque grills. It expects to prevent barbeque emissions with a systematic approach.
"The primary approach is a preventative method that will remove the majority of grease drippings from the possibility of unwanted flare ups," the EPA states in its proposal for the study.
"A slotted and corrugated tray is inserted immediately prior to meat flipping, and removed immediately after. This short contact time prevents the tray from over-heating and volatilizing the collected grease. This collected grease will then drip off into a collection tray and can be used at the pit master's discretion. 100 percent prevention is not practical, therefore a secondary filtration system is proposed to mitigate the remaining aerosol and particulate matter formed."
Backlash to the study has already started in Congress.
"On the face of it, it's a waste of taxpayer money and ultimately this is the time to put a stop to it before it leads to regulations that would regulate backyard barbecues," said Missouri Senator Eric Schmitt, who has established a Twitter hashtag (#porksteakrebellion), encouraging people to both express their displeasure and grill outdoors in protest to the study.
Michigan state Senators Phil Pavlov and Tom Casperson also weighed in, and offered a concurrent resolution (no. 14) to oppose the EPA plan.
"This study is just a symptom of how far the EPA is going," Casperson told Michigan Farm News. "If we don't pay attention, we're going to get run over here."
The reason Casperson decided to author the resolution, he said, is to raise attention to the EPA's overall agenda.
"We've been involved with so many EPA-related issues in the Upper Peninsula," he said. "The EPA is using wetlands to stop a county road project and they've put regulations on wood boilers so high that it will kill them. If we have to live up to the EPA standards for an outside wood burner, a campfire will not meet that standard.
"But many people will just let it go if they don't have a wood stove. It doesn't affect them. We want the public to know this is not just about a wood boiler or a grill. You name it, it's about all of the above. If we let the little issues go, we'll have a harder fight on the bigger issues."
The bigger issues include the recently finalized Waters of the U.S. rule.
"This is just another example of government overreach and a disconnect between agency bureaucrats and taxpayers," said John Kran, Michigan Farm Bureau's national lobbyist. "It's good to see Senators Casperson and Pavlov raising awareness of this issue."
Until the total potential barbeque particulate matter impact is summed up, it seems that the EPA is trying to impose its will on the public, according to Laura Campbell, manager of Michigan Farm Bureau's agriculture ecology department.
"I haven't seen any numbers for how significant the issue is, so it seems a very small particulate matter source to spend taxpayer money on when there are undoubtedly bigger emission sources they could seek to reduce," she said.
"What they don't seem to understand is that the guy with the grill wants to be left alone to cook his steak," he said. "He doesn't want the EPA in his back yard."
Neither does the public want the EPA to control all farmland and every drop of water in the country, Casperson said, noting that he doesn't believe the EPA's spin on the Waters of the U.S. rule when it says things contrary to what's written.
"Look at their track record," he said. "If we let them have control over one thing, why should be expect anything different from the next thing? What are they going after next? Your campfire?"
The Casperson/Pavlov resolution reads:
Whereas, barbecues are an American tradition enjoyed by families from all walks of life across the country. Whether tailgating for a football game, hosting a backyard get-together, or just grilling a summer meal, barbecues are a quintessentially American experience and an opportunity to eat and socialize with family and friends; and
Whereas, cooking outdoors on a grill during the summer saves electricity. Using a grill prevents the release of heat into the kitchen and other living spaces, while cooking indoors heats up a kitchen forcing cooling systems, such as the refrigerator and air conditioner, to work harder and use more energy; and
Whereas, The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), our nation's environmental regulatory agency, has funded a University of California-Riverside student project to develop preventative technology to reduce emissions from residential barbecues. By funding this project, the EPA is apparently intent on finding a solution to a problem that does not exist and demonstrating an unnecessary interest and concern over the impact of backyard barbecues on public health; and
Whereas, based on the EPA's past practices, today's study, no matter how small, is a concern to Michiganders and Americans, as it is inevitably the first step towards tomorrow's regulation of this American pastime. To fulfill its mission to protect human health and the environment, the EPA's primary tool has been, and continues to be, regulatory mandates that time and again ignore the financial, economic, and social burdens to the state and the country. The regulation of barbecues would be the latest, egregious example of overreach by the EPA; and
Whereas, funding such a study is a poor use of taxpayer dollars. In the face of record national debts, annual budget deficits, and other profound problems the country is facing, surely the federal government can better use our resources than on a study of grills and backyard barbecues;
now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That we oppose the United States Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to study or commission a study that, if consistent with the agency's past practices, many fear will serve as the first step towards the regulation of grills and barbecues; and be it further Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the members of the Michigan congressional delegation.