The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week unanimously approved the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act, a bill to ease Environmental Protection Agency regulations for on-farm fuel storage.
This bipartisan legislation was sponsored in the House by Rep. Eric Crawford, R-Ark. It will now head to the House floor for full consideration.
Current EPA Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure regulations call for agricultural operations to develop an SPCC plan if the farm has an above ground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons or a buried oil storage capacity of 42,000 gallons or more.
However, the legislation passed through committee exempts farms with a storage capacity of 10,000 gallons or fewer from having to develop an SPCC plan. The legislation also allows more operations to self-certify by raising the self-certification level to up to 20,000 gallons of fuels storage.
Operations with greater than 20,000 gallons will still be required to have a professional engineer-certified spill plan.
"Under the FUELS Act, the burdens of the SPCC regulations would be greatly reduced and family farmers and ranchers would be exempted from having to develop and implement costly spill containment plans," explained NCBA president Scott George.
"NCBA is pleased to see the exemption level of 10,000 gallons," George said, noting that the language will prevent farmers and ranchers from costly regulations.
The SPCC rule went into effect on May 10, though an amendment to the 2013 Continuing Resolution prohibited the EPA from enforcing it until Sept. 22.
Similar language is also contained in the House Farm Bill and as an amendment to the Senate's Water Resources Development Act.