Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., last week introduced a bill that would ease the U.S. EPA's Oil Spill Prevention Control, and Countermeasure regulation for farmers.
H.R. 3129, the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act, or FUELS Act, would modify the Environmental Protection Agency's rule that Crawford said "requires farmers to comply with unreasonable regulations."
Currently, the SPCC program requires producers to construct a containment facility like a dike or a basin around any aboveground oil storage facility exceeding 2,500 gallons.
The FUELS Act would ease the SPCC rules for small farmers and ranchers by modifying the exemption level to be more reflective of a producer's spill risk and financial resources, Crawford's office said.
The exemption level for a single above-ground container would be adjusted upward to 10,000 gallons while the aggregate level on a production facility would move to 42,000 gallons. In addition, it places a greater degree of responsibility on the farmer or rancher to self-certify compliance, instead of having to procure the services of certified Professional Engineers.
"To require that all of our producers make a significant investment to prevent such an unlikely event seems out of touch with reality and disregards the already overwhelming amount of safeguards our farmers employ," Crawford said.
"No one has more at stake in the health of their land than those who depend on it for their livelihood. My bill would restrict EPA's ability to enforce SPCC regulations on farms so that farmers and ranchers can invest their resources in producing necessary food and fiber without having to worry about unnecessary costs and red tape."
Similar legislation has been introduced previously; H.R. 3129 is identical to a farm bill amendment that passed the House unanimously in the 113th Congress (H.Amdt 224), as well as legislation that passed unanimously in 2012 ( H.R. 3158) and 2013 (H.R. 311).
According to the University of Arkansas, the FUELS Act is estimated to save the agriculture community up to $3.36 billion in compliance costs.