WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, yesterday sent a letter along with Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and thirty one of their colleagues to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Lisa Jackson, requesting that EPA extend the implementation timeline for the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule for farmers, and work to ensure that the rule is not overly burdensome or confusing.
It is common practice for farms and ranches to have fuel storage tanks and containers. The SPCC program calls for farmers and other facilities to have an oil spill prevention plan to avoid spills which can damage water resources needed for farming operations. Last year, the EPA proposed extending the compliance date under the SPCC rule to November 2011 for farms that came into business after August 2002. However, concerns have been raised that not all farms have sufficient opportunity to meet their obligations under this rule.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), senior member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, sent the letter with Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Max Baucus (D-MT), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), and David Vitter (R-LA).
Senator Inhofe: "Today a significant number of rural state Senators are sending a clear bipartisan message to the EPA that it must extend the implementation timeline for the SPCC rule for farmers. EPA has set stringent, costly standards without ensuring that small farms in Oklahoma and across the nation can comply. Many farmers do not have access to the professional engineers needed to bring them into compliance, and many others, who were previously not subject to this rule, may now have to comply on very short notice due to EPA's draft guidance document. An extended timeline is not just desired. It is absolutely necessary. I will be working with my colleagues to ensure that this issue gets resolved in a timely manner."
Senator Conrad: "The SPCC rule is confusing and compliance under the EPA's timeline is putting an added burden on North Dakota's family farmers and those all across rural America. We are asking the EPA to seek further conversation with agricultural community to create a regulation and a timeline that makes sense for all parties."Praise from Oklahoma Ag Community:
“Oklahoma's farmers and ranchers need assistance in determining whether their operations must comply with SPCC regulations. Because of the necessity for assistance and the shortage of engineers prepared to work with the agricultural community, there is a critical need for an extension of the compliance deadline." -Mike Spradling, President, Oklahoma Farm Bureau“We strongly support Senator Inhofe's efforts. Many farmers have been able to manage increased fuel and other input costs to some extent by making bulk purchases. This management tool can only be utilized if the farmer has invested in storage capacity large enough to accept tanker load quantities of fuel or multiple truck loads of other inputs. However, many farmers are discovering that this strategy comes at the cost of finding a registered professional engineer to develop spill prevention plans required to comply with SPCC spill prevention rules. In several rural areas of our state, these engineering services are unavailable, thus forcing a farmer to consider reducing storage capacity on his farm to below the limit allowed for self-certification status in order to achieve compliance in a timely manner. We appreciate and support Senator's Inhofe's efforts to provide additional time to achieve compliance because many farmers are having difficulty engaging appropriate engineering services.” -Danny Robbins, Chairman of the Oklahoma Cotton CouncilSupport for the SPCC timeline extension from the Farming Community:
"The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) would like to thank Senators Inhofe and Conrad for their leadership on the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule as it affects farmers and ranchers. NCBA is the nation's oldest and largest trade association for cattle producers and represents more than 147,000 cattle producers through direct membership and our state and breed affiliates. We fully support their efforts to extend the compliance deadline, which will give cattle producers the additional time needed to implement the rule in their operations. Cattle producers want to be in compliance with the regulation, but they must have the resources available to do so. Compliance with the rule will cost producers thousands of dollars at a time when their budgets are very limited due to the economic downturn. In addition, the farming community in many instances lacks access to an adequate number of Professional Engineers (PEs) to do the engineering work required. Without access to PEs, it is impossible for farmers to become SPCC compliant. The lack of technical professionals creates the need for an extension of the compliance deadline. NCBA would like to thank them for all their efforts to provide relief from the looming compliance deadline for the SPCC rule for farmers and ranchers across the country. - Bill Donald, President of National Cattlemen's Beef Association
"The timeline for implementation of the SPCC rule continues to be troublesome for many farmers who, despite best efforts, have been unable to complete their oil spill prevention plans. Often this is because access to registered professional engineers willing to review and approve plans is limited at best or not available at worst. The National Cotton Council (NCC), on behalf of its members, applauds the pilot initiative announced October 21, 2010 by the Department of Agriculture and administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to help agricultural producers comply with the revised SPCC regulations by the EPA. Senator Inhofe and Conrad's effort represents a great first step in helping producers understand and work toward complying with regulations. The NCC would like this cost share program expanded to ensure access for all producers. An additional extension of the deadline by EPA combined with more extensive outreach by the agency working in conjunction with the NRCS pilot initiative would be most helpful in achieving the desired compliance results." -National Cotton Council“America’s farmers and ranchers need more time and assistance in complying with SPCC regulations and we appreciate Senator Inhofe’s effort to extend the deadline. Farmers in Oklahoma and elsewhere have struggled to find registered professional engineers to develop the necessary spill prevention plans required under SPCC rules. Senator Inhofe’s request for an extension of the compliance deadline would greatly benefit our farmers and ranchers.” - Bob Stallman, President of American Farm Bureau Federation