Rep. Crawford (R-Ark.) led a bipartisan coalition of House members in reintroducing the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act (FUELS) Act, H.R. 311. The legislation would modify EPA’s Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule to alleviate the regulatory burden on farmers and ranchers. The FUELS Act passed the House in August 2012 without a single dissenting vote, but stalled in the Senate. The current deadline for farm compliance is May 10, 2013.
The SPCC rule requires that facilities, including farms that have an oil storage capacity of more than 1,320 gallons, make costly structural improvements to reduce the possibility of oil spills into US waters. The plan requires farmers to construct a containment facility, like a dike or a basin, which must retain 110 percent of the fuel in the container. These mandated infrastructure improvements – along with third-party certification – would add a tremendous financial burden on producers.
Under H.R. 311, a professional engineer is required to develop and certify the plan if the facility has: 1) an individual tank with aboveground storage capacity more than 10,000 gallons, 2) an aggregate aboveground storage capacity of 42,000 gallons or greater, or 3) a history that includes a spill. The owner or operator for a farm may self-certify for a farm with an aggregate aboveground storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons but less than 42,000 gallons and no history of spills. A farm with an aggregate aboveground storage capacity of less than or equal to 10,000 gallons and no history of spills is exempt from all requirements. In addition, containers and separate parcels with a capacity less than 1,320 gallons are excluded from a farm’s aggregate storage capacity. The proposal also would place a greater degree of responsibility on the farmer or rancher to self-certify compliance if the exemption level is exceeded.