WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) sent a letter Thursday to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting clarification on the EPA's interpretation of its authority with regard to enforcing the Spill, Prevention, Containment, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule on farmers. In the letter, the Senators expressed concern for the EPA's intent to retroactively enforce the rule despite bicameral and bipartisan congressional support to delay implementation and ultimately exempt much of the agriculture industry from it.
The Senators wrote in the letter, “It has come to our attention that the EPA is informing agriculture producers that it does have the authority to begin enforcing the SPCC rule retroactively beginning September 23. Congress has repeatedly raised concerns about the implementation of this rule within the agriculture sector, making these reports particularly unsettling.”
Inhofe and Pryor have been leading the fight to protect agricultural producers from being unfairly targeted by the SPCC rule that is intended to regulate large-scale energy production. To comply with the SPCC rule, farmers would be required to install new double-walled engine oil and diesel storage containers, build expensive berms around their storage facility locations, and fill out volumes of paperwork that must be certified by professional engineers.
In March, Inhofe successfully offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution that prohibits the EPA from enforcing the SPCC rule against farmers until September 22. In May, during the consideration of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 (S.601), the Senate unanimously adopted an amendment offered by Pryor and Inhofe to provide a permanent exemption to the SPCC rule for most farmers. At the time of this release, the House of Representatives has not yet considered the WRDA legislation, but did include a similar provision in its FARM bill (H.R. 2642) that passed the House in July.
The Senators continued, “Congress has clearly established its intent to limit the impact of the SPCC rule on the agricultural sector, and to ultimately exempt the majority of it from having to comply… If the agency does plan to retroactively enforce the rule, will you please explain why you are doing this despite the clear, bipartisan steps Congress has taken over the past few months to limit this rule's impact on the agriculture community?”
The full text of the letter can be found by clicking here.