I was pretty stunned to see something come across my Facebook feed and on Twitter this morning: Apparently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now set its attention on controlling our backyard barbecues. Seriously. According to a Washington Examiner article, the EPA “is funding a University of California project to limit emissions resulting in grease drippings with a special tray to catch them and a “catalytic” filtration system.” The EPA is coughing up (pun intended) $15,000 for the student project to study and try to cut pollutants from our grills.

According to the EPA (The grant brief is found here):
To perform research and develop preventative technology that will reduce fine particulate emissions (PM2.5) from residential barbecues. This technology is intended to reduce air pollution as well as health hazards in Southern California, with potential for global application.
Expected Results:
We expect to limit the overall air pollution PM emissions from barbecuing and to alleviate some of the acute health hazards that a barbecue pit master can experience from inhalation.

One way the students propose to improve air quality is to reduce flare-ups by the use of some sort of slotted tray. I cannot even imagine pitmasters in competition using something that impedes the direct meat-on-grate cooking. They are also proposing some sort of “catalytic” filtration and fan system.

On Monday, Mar. 16, State Senator Eric Schmitt (R) from St. Louis was not going to have it. He started the #PorkSteakRebellion campaign on Twitter. Essentially he is fed up and said they are a government agency that is out of control. The EPA has countered with a statement that they don’t really regulate people’s backyard barbecues and the grant was really part of a student-designed competition for sustainability.

The EPA has already targeted homeowners’ lawn mower and weed eater emissions….Wood-burning and pellet stove bans….pond and water feature regulations. And yesterday it was announced they funded a study to monitor and potentially limit how long we, as hotel guests, shower. What’s next, eliminate sparklers on the 4th of July? What about tailgating and open camp fires? My neighbor’s smoke detector always goes off when she uses her oven. Will she be banned from baking?

On Mar. 17 @MeatmanSteaks tweeted “The EPA can regulate my grill when it pulls the tongs from my cold, dead hands.” After some of the research I’ve done on this subject, I’m guessing that’s the popular American consensus.

In the meantime, Sen. Schmitt called on people to fire up their grills this week as a sort of “peaceful protest”. Spring is officially here on Friday and I’m ready for a cookout. Who’s with me (before my grill is outlawed)?

Food for thought.