Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, helped pass legislation in the House of Representatives to limit onerous EPA fuel storage regulations for small agriculture producers that are too costly and unnecessary. The Rehberg-sponsored Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act passed the House this week. The bill would modify the over-burdensome regulations in the Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) program.
"Montana's farmers and ranchers don't need Washington bureaucrats breathing down their necks with regulations that just don't make sense," said Rehberg, a member of the Congressional Rural Caucus and a fifth-generation Montana rancher. "Reasonable regulations are good for public safety, but the economic impact of needless regulation is not only felt on the farm, but in virtually all aspects of the ag community. I'm pleased we were able to make our case and pass these reasonable modifications. Now it's time for the Senate and the White House to follow suit and pass legislation that will actually help our economy, instead of working against jobs."
Under SPCC, the EPA would require producers with 1320 gallons of total fuel storage to enact an oil spill prevention plan, and producers with over 10,000 gallons aggregate storage would have to have that plan professionally certified. The FUELS Act would modify the threshold to 10,000 gallons for single containers and 42,000 gallons for aggregate storage for each facility, respectively. It also places greater emphasis on a producer's self-certified plan, rather than having the added expense of working with a professional engineering firm.
Rehberg heard from Montana producers who expressed concern that the previous regulations did not provide sufficient guidelines on which oil spill plans would be in compliance and which plans would not. This uncertainty would have exposed farmers and ranchers to the risk that they could be fined despite having a plan in place if that plan is not deemed compliant by the EPA.
Last fall, Rehberg addressed those concerns with EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and backed a measure to modify the over-reaching regulations.
The Montana Grain Growers Association expressed their support for Rehberg's actions in defense of Montana's ag families, and called for Senate action on the measure.
"The FUELS Act will provide some much needed relief from EPA overreach for Montana's farmers", said Brian Eggebrecht, President of the Montana Grain Growers Association. "We've found that complying with EPA's Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule has been complicated, confusing and expensive. We appreciate Denny's leadership on this issue, and encourage the Senate to move on this important matter right away."