Senate Approves Permanent SPCC Exemption For Farmers

May 9, 2013

Yesterday, the Senate adopted an amendment introduced by Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) which would increase threshold sizes for Above Ground Storage Tank (AST) regulation at the farm level, and allow more farms to self-certify spill plans. It provides an exemption from the SPCC rule to any farmer with no single tank larger than 10,000 gallons and will allow farmers to self-certify if they hold less than 42,000 total gallons of oil storage capacity. If the Senate passes the WRDA, the measure would go to the House for consideration. Similar SPCC exemption legislation has been introduced by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) and it is expected to pass when the House takes it up later this year. If the Pryor-Inhofe amendment is ultimately signed into law, then farmers will be granted the tank threshold exemptions and the amendment to delay EPA’s SPCC regulations until September 30, 2013 will be moot.

In the meantime, EPA’s SPCC rule is slated to go into effect TOMORROW for farmers. The rule requires farmers to hire a certified professional engineer to design a SPCC plan and have secondary containment installed. As petroleum marketers well know, the SPCC rule is applicable to any facility, including farms, with an aggregate above-ground oil storage capacity of 1,320 gallons in tanks of 55 gallons or greater. However, whether the rule will be enforced now is unclear. Included in passage of the continuing resolution (CR), which was signed into law in March, is language which delays SPCC compliance deadlines for farmers through September 30, 2013. The amendment prevents funds from being used through Fiscal Year 2013 to implement requirements of EPA’s SPCC rule. 

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