Water Resources Reform and Development Act to mitigate issues from EPA rule
May 28, 2014
Congress passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, on May 22, 2014, which will become law with the President's signature. Importantly for members of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, this bill contains a provision that will ease the burden of the EPA's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure rule.
The current EPA SPCC rule for farms requires compliance if an operation has 1,320 gallons, or more, of aboveground fuel storage and allows self-certification up to 10,000 gallons. This not only includes fuel storage but requires aboveground feed storage to be included in the total if it meets the broad definition of "oil" which includes the base of many liquid cattle feeds.
"The SPCC rule is yet another example of the EPA's regulatory scheme threatening the economic viability of rural America and family farms and ranches," said Bob McCan, NCBA president and Victoria, Texas, cattleman. "Cattlemen and women have been waiting too long for a permanent fix to the SPCC rule. Thanks to the efforts of Senators Inhofe and Pryor and Representative Crawford, this provision will ease the burden of this rule across the nation for many farmers and ranchers."
Under the provision in the WRRDA legislation, the aggregate aboveground fuel exemption limit is raised to 6,000 gallons for operations with no history of spills and no single tank with a capacity of 10,000 gallons or more from having to develop a plan. The provision will require a self-certified plan for operations that have aggregate aboveground fuel storage above 6,000 and below 20,000 gallons with no history of spills and no single tank capacity of 10,000 gallons or more. Moreover, the legislation exempts fuel tanks with a capacity of 1,000 gallons or less and all tanks that hold animal feed ingredients from the aggregate calculations.
Those operations that do not meet these exemptions will require a Spill Containment Plan, certified by a professional engineer.
"This commonsense legislation will protect the majority of the nation's cattle producers from the burden and cost of developing a spill containment plan," said McCan. "Our operations are good stewards of their land and waters, and this provision recognizes our commitment to keeping our family and animals safe. Because we know the value in clean water, our producers have an excellent record in preventing fuel spills. This is a major regulatory victory for the majority of our members who live miles from town and store fuel or feed on their property."
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The legislation also calls for a study to be conducted by the EPA and the USDA within one year of the bill becoming law to determine whether the 6,000 gallon aggregate aboveground storage exemption level poses a significant risk of a discharge to waters of the U.S. by agricultural operations. Based on the results of that study, the exemption level may be lowered from 6,000 gallons, but cannot be lowered below 2,500 gallons.
"We expect the President to sign WRRDA shortly and look forward to this legislation becoming law," said McCan.