Today, Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR), led a bipartisan coalition of House members in re-introducing the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act, or FUELS Act. The legislation would modify the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule that places an unnecessary burden on farmers and ranchers. The FUELS Act passed the House of Representatives in August of 2012 without a single dissenting vote, but stalled in the Senate.
The EPA is expected to begin implementing the SPCC rules in May. Crawford called for swift action from House and Senate Leaders to ensure small farmers and ranchers are not unduly burdened.
"Now is the time to again pass this common sense legislation before small farmers and ranchers are forced to make costly changes to their infrastructure. The EPA's spill containment regulations would cost farmers and ranchers literally tens of thousands of dollars. On top of that, producers have to procure the costly services of Professional Engineers or PEs just to certify compliance and I've heard that some states don't even have PEs qualified to provide that consultation," said Crawford. "My proposal - the FUELS Act --would change EPA's burdensome spill containment regulations to exempt small farmers who can't afford to comply. This legislation has passed the House before and I am confident it will pass again. The University Of Arkansas Division Of Agriculture concluded that FUELS could save Arkansas producers alone up to $252 million. For the entire Nation, it would save up to $3.36 billion"
Original Democratic Co-Sponsor on the FUELS Act, Congressman Mike McIntyre, (D-NC), called for swift action on the bipartisan measure.
Congressman McIntyre stated, "Helping farmers and keeping agriculture strong is one of my priorities! I am pleased to support this important measure which would scale back excessive EPA regulations. The House has unanimously passed this bill before, and I urge it to do the same again!"
FUELS Act Background:
The EPA mandated Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule would require that oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons make costly structural improvements to reduce the possibility of oil spills. The plan requires farmers to construct a containment facility, like a dike or a basin, which must retain 110 percent of the fuel in the container. These mandated infrastructure improvements -- along with third-party certification -- would add a tremendous financial burden on producers at a time when farm revenues are significantly impacted by widespread drought.
The FUELS Act will modify the rules by raising the exemption levels to better reflect a producer's spill risk and financial resources. The exemption level for a single container would be adjusted upward to 10,000 gallons while the aggregate level on a production facility would move to 42,000 gallons. The proposal would also place a greater degree of responsibility on the farmer or rancher to self-certify compliance if it exceeds the exemption level.