U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, praised the adoption of Amendment 801 to the Water Resources and Development Act that would grant relief from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule for farms and ranches. The amendment was adopted Wednesday night by Unanimous Consent.
“Since I was notified of plans for the implementation of EPA’s over-reaching SPCC rule years ago, I have been fighting for a permanent exemption for small farmers and ranchers,” said Inhofe. “Last night, this goal was accomplished. These regulations were originally designed for refineries and major handlers of oil products; it is unnecessary for this rule to be applied so strictly to farmers. I am glad my Senate colleagues agreed, and I look forward to ensuring this provision remains in the bill when WRDA is conferenced with the House.”
"We want to thank Sen. Inhofe for his leadership fighting to exempt small farms from the SPCC rule. It is a great victory for Oklahoma's farmers and ranchers," said Terry Detrich, President of Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers.
President of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mike Spradling added, “We are grateful for Sen. Inhofe’s common sense approach to lessen the regulatory burden for our farmers and ranchers. The government should be trying to help us produce more food and fiber, rather than obstructing production with these expensive, unnecessary regulations.”
To comply with the SPCC rule, farmers must often install new double-walled engine oil and diesel storage containers, build expensive berms around their storage facility locations, and fill out volumes of paperwork that must be certified by professional engineers.
The amendment would grant a permanent exemption for any farm with an aggregate above ground fuel tank storage capacity of less than 2,500 gallons; a two and one-half years exemption for tank capacities of less than 6,000 gallons pending a study by EPA and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); and farms with storage capacities from 6,000 to 20,000 gallons can self-certify SPCC spill plans.
In June 2011, Inhofe sent a bipartisan letter to EPA with 32 of his colleagues requesting that EPA do more outreach and delay implementation of the rule. EPA agreed to extend the compliance deadline to May 10, 2013, but since then has conducted only one outreach program.
On March 8th, Sen. Inhofe introduced S. 496, the SPCC farm exemption bill with five cosponsors. On March 15th, the Senate adopted Inhofe Amendment 29 to the Continuing Resolution that that would prohibit the EPA from enforcing its SPCC Rule against farmers until the end of this fiscal year.