WRRDA could roll back some EPA storage tank regulations

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 21, 2014 - Tucked into Section 1049 of the Waterways Resources Reform Development Act (WRRDA) is language designed to give farmers and ranchers some relief from the Environmental Protection Agency's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule on farm storage tanks.

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Current regulations require operations with more than 1,320 gallons of above-ground storage capacity and are located near a “reasonable pathway” to surface water to have spill prevention plans. Farms required to have such a plan also need to have a secondary containment facility de- signed to hold 110 percent of the volume of the largest tank on the farm.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and others added an amendment to the WRRDA legislation that would exempt all tanks of 1,000 gallons or less from the rule, and farms with an aggregate tank storage capacity of 2,500 gallons or less would not have to comply with the regulation.

Farms with tank storage capacities of between 2,500 gallons and 6,000 gallons would have a temporary exemption, pending the results of a study by USDA and the EPA. The provision also greatly limits the instances when professional engineers must certify spill plans.

Several farm organizations expressed support for these provisions, even though they had sought a larger exemption of up to 10,000 gallons - rather than the up-to-6,000 gallon exemption that could be the final level. “It can slide back to 2,500 (gallons), but we think the study will show very low risk,” explained Don Parrish, American Farm Bureau Federation's director of regulatory affairs.

In what the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) described as a “big win” feed storage tanks will not be included in the calculation for aggregated storage capacity. The bill would require a professional engineer to certify a plan on farms where there is an individual aboveground storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons, an aggregate storage capacity greater than 20,000 gallons or a reportable oil discharge history. Owners or operators who had less storage capacity and meet certain other requirements could self-certify.

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