The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced it has extended until May 2013 the deadline to implement Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures regulations. According to the regulations, an SPCC plan must be prepared by all facilities subject to regulation. The rule will 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 which must retain 110% of the fuel in the container.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says NFU is pleased that EPA has listened to the concerns of Farmers Union members and extended the implementation deadline. He says this extension is instrumental in ensuring that the agriculture community understands SPCC requirements and has time to obtain technical assistance and implement the proper safeguards for stored oil.
Meanwhile, Representative Rick Crawford, R-Ark., has introduced the FUELS Act, the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act, which would modify the rules by raising the exemption levels to better reflect a producer's spill risk and financial resources.
"The EPA spill containment regulation will cost farmers and ranchers literally tens of thousands of dollars to make significant improvements in their infrastructure," Crawford said. "On top of that producers have to procure the costly services of professional engineers just to certify compliance, and I've heard that some states don't even have PEs qualified to have that consultation. So my proposal, the FUELS Act would change EPA's burdensome spill containment regulations to exempt small farmers who can't afford to comply. We got some analysis from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and they conclude that my proposal would save Arkansas producers alone $252 million."
Under Crawford's proposal, 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.