Today Congressman Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) and Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to reconsider a regulation that places an unnecessary burden on farmers and ranchers. Over 100 Members of Congress from across the country signed the letter.
The EPA mandated Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule requires that oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons must make structural improvements to prevent spills. The plan requires farmers to construct a containment facility, like a dike or a basin, which must retain 110 percent of the fuel in the container. Such infrastructure improvements would cost farmers tens of thousands of dollars and would cost even more to procure the services of Professional Engineers.
The letter urges Administrator Jackson to extend the rule’s November 2011 deadline and requests that the EPA does a better job in engaging with the agriculture community.
“This regulation places an unnecessary burden on the agriculture community, diverting resources they could use to expand their operations and create jobs,” said Congressman Crawford. “There are no better stewards of the land and water than farmers and ranchers, who derive their livelihood from the earth. This is yet another outrageous example of the Obama Administration’s overreach, where government thinks it knows better than the people who make this country great. ”
“As a farmer myself, I understand the impact burdensome regulations can have on farmers’ and small business owners’ ability to invest and operate,” said Congressman Fincher. “The danger with too much government red tape is that it drives up cost and ultimately hurts job creation throughout communities. Following the devastating storms and floods this year, the last thing farmers and small businesses need is an additional bureaucratic hurdle as they struggle to rebuild and recover. I urge the EPA to delay the implementation of the fuel storage rule to allow more time for farmers and small businesses to attempt to budget, plan, and implement this costly, burdensome regulation.”
Click here for a PDF of the letter including signatures.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Administrator Jackson,
We are writing you to express our concerns with the implementation of the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule for farmers and ranchers.
As you know, the SPCC regulations would apply to any facility with an above-ground oil storage capacity of at least 1,320 gallons in containers holding more than 55 gallons. We are concerned with current circumstances that we feel are not conducive to effective compliance, or achieving the goal of SPCC regulations.
In order to comply with these guidelines, many farmers and ranchers will need to undertake expensive improvements in infrastructure and must hire engineers to meet specific criteria. At this time, most agriculture producers are hard-pressed to procure the services of Professional Engineers (PEs). Many producers have reported that they are unable to find PEs willing to work on farms. Additionally, some states do not have a single qualified PE registered to provide SPCC consultation. The scarce availability of engineers calls into question the viability of achieving the goal of full compliance by November 2011.
As you have travelled to farms and rural communities in the Mid-south and Midwest, you have seen first-hand the hardship facing farmers due to the devastation wrought by floods and severe weather. Farmers and ranchers are dealing with crop losses to the tune of billions of dollars and have been working around-the-clock to clean up the damage and preserve what little crops they have left. At this time, it is simply not within the means of many farmers to deal with losses while allocating time and money towards complying with SPCC regulations.
Recently, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released draft guidance that drastically expands the agencies’ authority in terms of the waters and wetlands considered “adjacent” to jurisdictional “waters of the Unites States” under the Clean Water Act. Many farmers and ranchers are worried that this guidance will force compliance with the SPCC, without the necessary time to do so. We believe that producers want to be in compliance, but the delay of assistance documentation has severely constrained their ability to make the necessary preparations.
In addition, the EPA has yet to provide clarification regarding who is responsible for maintaining the plan, as many farms are operated by those who do not own the land. Many farmers and ranchers are also unsure of how the EPA will enforce the rule.
Before moving forward, we ask that you ensure a process free of confusion and overly burdensome rules that might disincentivize SPCC compliance. By nature of occupation, family farmers are already careful stewards of land and water. No one has more at stake than those who work on the ground from which they derive their livelihood. We respectfully request that you re-consider the SPCC implementation deadline, continue to dialogue with the agriculture community and its stakeholders, and ensure that the rule is not overly burdensome or confusing. We believe this would help avoid unintended consequences. We appreciate your attention to this important matter.
For more information on Congressman Rick Crawford, click here.