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Public Statements

Water Resources Development Act of 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I want to mention a couple of things. First of all, the Senator from Arkansas and I have a very significant amendment, and one we will want to talk about. In fact, it is an amendment we had during the discussion on the amendments for the budget bill at something like 4 o'clock in the morning. At that time we were able to get it passed without a dissenting vote, so it is one we should be able to get through.

I will yield to the Senator from Arkansas in a moment, but before doing that I want to mention we have a set-aside amendment I am very concerned with. I certainly think the Senator in the Chair, as well as the Senator from Arkansas will both be very appreciative of this and supportive of it since they have a lot of small communities in their States, as I do in my State of Oklahoma. It uses the threshold of 25,000 people--any community that has 25,000 people or less--in order to take advantage of this set-aside money that would come within the WRDA bill.

Now, here is the problem we have. A lot of the small communities in my State of Oklahoma--and I would suggest the States of West Virginia and Arkansas are in the same situation--are not large enough to have an engineer or someone who is going to be able to put grants together. So we take 10 percent of the total amount and put it in there as a set-aside for these small communities.

This is a formula we have used before. We used the 25,000 benchmark before in the Transportation bill, in the WRDA bill, and in the farm bill, so it is one that is fairly well-accepted, and it provides a pot of money--it doesn't cost us; it is not scored--from the overall money to be reserved for the small communities, such as my communities in the State of Oklahoma.

I understand we are not to call up amendments right now, and that is fine with me, but that is one we will be offering. As I said, in just a moment I will be yielding to the Senator from Arkansas. In the meantime, I would call on the memories of those in this body back to when we had our all-night session about a month ago and the amendments that were there on the budget bill.

One of the amendments we passed was an amendment that would allow the SPCC to have farms exempt from the SPCC--the Spill Prevention Containment Control Act--so that the farms in my State of Oklahoma and throughout America would not be treated as refiners.

Spill prevention is a very expensive process. It is one that would require double containers for farms. This is a good example.

This happens to be a container on one of the farms in my State of Oklahoma, where you have a total amount of gallons of fuel from gas or oil or other fuels. If they are less than 10,000 gallons, they would be exempt. If they are less than 42,000 gallons, they would allow them to not do it through a professional engineer but do it just within their own resources--in other words, set their own standards.

This is my State of Oklahoma. This happens to be the well-discussed pipeline that goes through Cushing, OK. This is one of the central points where oil comes in and then goes out. It comes from the north and goes back down to Texas. But these are containers that should be subject to the jurisdiction that is prescribed for refiners for the containment of oil and gas. That is what that is about. This is not what that is about. This is just a typical farmer.

I have talked to farmers, and after that amendment passed--and the occupier of the Chair will remember this because he was a very strong supporter of this particular amendment--we had phones ringing off the hook from the American Farm Bureau and all the others saying this is something that is reasonable. But here is the problem. That would have expired on May 30, and all we did with that amendment was extend that exemption to the end of the fiscal year.

So if that passed without one dissenting vote, and if it is that popular, why not go ahead and have the same type of exemption put permanently in our statutes. That is what our plan is--to do that with the Pryor-Inhofe amendment.

Our amendment is supported by the American Farm Bureau, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the National Wheat Growers Association, the National Cotton Council, the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers, and USA Rice. So almost everyone having to do with agriculture is very supportive.

It doesn't totally exempt all farmers because it establishes three categories: one with farms where, if you add the aggregate and it is less than 10,000 gallons, they would be exempt; if they are in the next level up, between 10,000 and 42,000 gallons, they would be required to maintain a self-certified spill plan; and anything greater than 42,000 would have the total requirement, which means they would have to hire an engineer and go through all this expense.

I see the prime sponsor of this amendment is on the Senate floor, so I yield to the Senator from Arkansas.


Mr. INHOFE. I think some people might have an objection to this amendment if they thought there were some bad actors out there who, in the past, have violated or done something, in which case they would still have to comply as if they had over 42,000 in storage. This was called to my attention, and I think in the drafting of this amendment the Senator took care of that problem, I do believe.

We discussed this, I remember, the last time at 4 o'clock in the morning when we had the amendment for the budget bill, and at that time we made it very clear. The SPCC was designed for refiners. It was designed for the big operations, such as that big operation we had a picture of from Oklahoma. It doesn't affect them. They still should be and do have to comply. But the literally thousands of farms that are out there that are just trying and barely getting by, they are the ones we are speaking of.

I know the Senator from Arkansas has them as well as we do in Oklahoma, and before the Senator moves to another amendment I just wanted to be sure that part of the amendment was included in this discussion because that would offset some of the opposition that might be there to this amendment.


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