By unanimous consent, the Senate adopted an amendment (No. 29), offered by Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.), that would prohibit the use of funds in the continuing resolution (CR) to enforce EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule against farmers. If the CR ultimately sent to the President contains the language and is signed into law, EPA would be prohibited from enforcing the SPCC measure for the remainder of FY13 or until Sept. 30.

In a floor speech, Inhofe said his amendment would provide EPA with more time to determine how the spill prevention rule would affect small farmers before it is becomes effective on May 10. Sens. Reed (D-R.I.), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee for EPA, and Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, both came to the floor to speak against the amendment. They argued that it was too far-reaching and would prevent enforcement against large agribusiness conglomerates as well as small family farms.

 

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Meanwhile, on March 7, Sen. Pryor (D-Ark.) introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide farmers with some relief from this rule. Cosponsors of the legislation include Sens. Boozman (R-Ark.), Cochran (R-Miss.) and Inhofe (R-Okla.). The bill, S. 496, is a companion bill to Rep. Crawford’s Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship or FUELS Act (H.R. 311). The House passed that measure last Congress. S. 496 has been referred to the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee.

These bills provide exemptions for small farms and help farms reduce compliance costs with new EPA regulations related to the SPCC rule on fuel storage and spills as it relates to water pollution.

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