Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), James Inhofe (R-OK), Deb Fischer (R-NE), John Boozman (R-AR), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Mike Johanns (R-NE) today introduced a bill to amend the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule and ease the regulatory compliance for farms.
"The EPA's proposed fuel storage rules would force thousands of farmers to pay for costly infrastructure projects--along with an extensive inspection and certification process--that they simply don't need," Pryor said. "Our bipartisan, common-sense bill would exempt small farms from this regulatory overreach to save them millions in unneeded costs."
"As I have been saying for years, the EPA is doing everything it can to regulate Americans out of business, and he has his sights on the agriculture industry as well," said Inhofe. "It is unnecessary to force farmers to comply with oil spill regulations that were designed for refineries. Our common-sense legislation makes an exemption from the SPCC rule to any farmer who has less than 42,000 total gallons of oil storage capacity and no single tank larger than 10,000 gallons. This will exempt the vast majority of farmers from having to fill out volumes of paperwork, spend significant sums to buy new storage equipment, and protect them from the aggressive enforcement actions of the EPA. I am proud to work with Senator Pryor on this issue."
"I am pleased to join my colleagues in offering a bipartisan legislative solution that raises the exemption levels for fuel storage capacity to better reflect the spill risk and financial resources of farms. The FUELS Act will go a long way in providing common sense regulatory relief for farmers in Nebraska and across the country," said Fischer.
"The EPA is continuing its assault on America's farms with another excessive regulation that would be costly to our nation's agri-businesses," Boozman said. "This legislation will prevent Arkansas farmers and ranchers from having to spend money on equipment just to comply with another extreme regulation."
"The EPA rule is onerous and poses a significant financial burden for farmers. We are offering a reasonable solution that addresses spill risks without threatening the viability of small farming operations," said Cochran.
"This bill provide farmers and ranchers much-needed relief from burdensome regulations," Johanns said. "There is no question that we need to protect the land around us, but a one-size-fits-all approach that fails to acknowledge that a farm is different from a gas station unnecessarily hurts the ag community and unnecessarily adds to compliance costs."
Under EPA's plan, farmers who have oil and gas tanks on their farms will be required to hire a certified professional engineer to design a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan -- just like major oil refineries. They may also be required to purchase new capital equipment to comply with the rule, including dual containment tanks on farm trucks and fuel storage units that will unnecessarily raise the cost of farming.
This bill will exempt farmers from these regulations for aboveground oil storage tanks that have an aggregate storage capacity of less than 10,000 gallons. In addition to providing this exemption, it will also allow farmers who are regulated and have less than 42,000 gallons of above ground storage capacity to self certify their own plans. This will dramatically decrease costs by eliminating the need to hire a professional engineer -- of which there are very few available to farmers to complete these plans.
The Senators have been working to lessen the regulatory burden of SPCC rule for some time. In June 2011, Pryor and Inhofe, along with a bipartisan group of 31 other Senators sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting that EPA extend the implementation timeline for the amended SPCC rule for farmers, and work to ensure that the rule is not overly burdensome or confusing. In November 2011, EPA quietly announced on its website that it would be extending the SPCC compliance date to May 10, 2013 - a victory for farmers struggling to comply with the rule.