Senate approves amendment on EPA spill regulations
By Derrick Cain
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2013 - The Senate approved Wednesday night, by unanimous consent, an amendment that seeks to ensure that the EPA's pending spill prevention, control and countermeasure (SPCC) regulations adequately recognize the low risk of spills on U.S. farms and ranches.
The amendment, offered by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., would exempt farmers from SPCC rules for aboveground oil storage tanks that have an aggregate storage capacity of less than 10,000 gallons. In addition to providing this exemption, it would allow farmers who are regulated and have less than 42,000 gallons of above ground storage capacity to self-certify their own plans. The underlying bill (WRDA) would authorize funding to modernize the nation's locks and dams, provide upkeep for rivers and coasts, assist with flood protection and restore key environmental areas.
“The Senate's unanimous approval of this amendment is a huge victory for farmers throughout Nebraska and across America, who are dealing with onerous new regulations for their on-farm fuel tanks. These misguided EPA rules have a direct impact on producers, who faced incredible compliance costs and paperwork requirements; inability to meet these new standards would result in the risk of stiff fines and penalties from EPA,” noted Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., who also sponsored the amendment. “This bipartisan amendment raises the exemption levels for fuel storage capacity to better reflect the spill risk and financial resources of farms.”
Fischer, Pryor, and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., previously introduced the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act (FUELS Act) to address this issue.
“Inclusion of an amendment identical to S. 496 in WRDA will bring much needed clarity to agriculture on the confusing requirements of the SPCC rules,” said Chuck Conner, NCFC president and chief executive. “Throughout this long regulatory process, the EPA has failed to provide solid data, or even anecdotal evidence, of on-farm oil spills to justify such as resource-intensive rulemaking for America's farmers and ranchers.”
The modified amendment states:
1. Farms with aggregate above ground (AAG) storage of 2,500 gallons or less are exempt.
2. Farms with AAG storage between 2,501 and 6000 gallons are exempt until EPA+USDA do a study (12 months) to establish a reasonable exemption threshold within the range and EPA then issues a rule (additional 18 months) to set the new exemption threshold.
3. Farms with AAG storage between 6,001 gallons and 20,000 gallons can self-certify. When the rule is issued, the lower level shall be adjusted accordingly.
4. Farms with AAG storage of 20,001 gallons and more require a PE.
5. Any farm with a spill history, regardless of AAG, requires a PE.
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