The EPA is going forward with the Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Program which is a new regulation that will require many ag producers to have a professionally-certified oil spill prevention plan in place by November 10, 2011.
The SPCC program will apply to any producer with an above-ground oil storage capacity of more than 1,320 gallons. Those with a storage capacity between 1,320 and 10,000 gallons will be able to self-certify their plan and those with over 10,000 gallons of storage will need their plan to be professionally-certified.
Many producers have expressed concern that, as it’s currently written, there is not sufficient guidance on which oil spill plans would be in compliance and which plans would not. This uncertainty exposes 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.
“The majority of Montana farming operations have on-site containers for fuel and oil storage both for convenience and also to help mitigate the volatility of fuel prices,” said Gordon Stoner, President of the Montana Grain Growers Association and a grain producer from Outlook, MT. “With the deadline for compliance quickly approaching, there is still a lot of uncertainty among farmers about what they need to do and how much it will cost to implement spill prevention measures and hire a professional engineer for certification.”
To see the EPA’s SPCC program Fact Sheet to Farmers please click HERE.
Congressman Denny Rehberg of Montana, who is a member of the Congressional Western Caucus and a fifth-generation rancher, also reacted to the SPCC program. “Once again, Washington bureaucrats are demonstrating just how out of touch they are with the realities of rural living, said Rehberg. “Montana’s ag producers already have strong incentives to protect the land, which is why this new EPA regulation is a solution in search of a problem. While I never support the needless expansion of government authority, forcing Montana’s farmers and ranchers to foot the bill at a time when they’re already struggling to make ends meet is ridiculous. The EPA needs to re-think this job-killing regulatory overreach.”
Congressman Rehberg also sent the following letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson:
Dear Administrator Jackson:
I am writing to express my concern regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to require farmers and ranchers to have a professionally-certified oil spill prevention plan by November 10, 2011. I urge you to consider the economic costs that this could bring to agriculture producers in my state of Montana and across the country.
Any producer with oil storage capacity over 1,320 gallons is subject to this proposal, which includes a large portion of Montana’s farmers and ranchers. The economic costs of this rule are a significant burden to large and small producers. It does not make sense at this time to add additional financial requirements during tough economic times. While I share the agency’s concern about preventing oil spills, farmers and ranchers already have valuable incentives to prevent oil spills on their own property, namely that their livelihoods depend on using sound environmental practices.
While I appreciate that those with total storage capacity between 1,320 and 10,000 gallons can self-certify their plans, I am concerned about potential ambiguity regarding the enforcement of this rule. There is not sufficient guidance on which plans would be in compliance and which plans would not. This uncertainty exposes 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.
I strongly urge you to consider the economic burdens of this proposal. Should you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact my office at (202) 225-3211.
The Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Program is scheduled to begin November 10, 2011.
Story posted by John Walton © Northern Ag Network
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United States Environmental Protection Agency