FUELS Act clears unnecessary regulation for farmers, landowners

The House of Representatives passed legislation early this week cosponsored by CongressmanKevin Cramer to prevent farmers and landowners from being forced to complywith a costly Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) regulation.

Posted March 14, 2014

The Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act addresses an Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule which requires certain fuel storage facilities to be structurally altered for compliance.

The SPCC rule was first published in 1973, but in 2009 the EPA began applying it to farms with fuel tanks as small as 1,320 gallons. The rule requires the farmer or landowner to construct a containment facility, such as a dike or a basin, to retain 110 percent of the fuel in the container. In addition, the farmer is required to pay for a costly fuel tank inspection and certification by a specially licensed professional engineer. It is estimated compliance costs, including inspections and certifications by licensed engineers, could reach more than $60,000. Buried fuel containerswith less than 42,000 gallons would remain exempt under the legislation.

“The FUELS Act scales back the drastic scope of this regulation by raising the exemption level to a more reasonable amount, ensuring small farming operations with above-ground tanks of less than 10,000 gallon capacity won’t be affected.

It also allows farmers with above-ground tanks between 10,000 and 42,000 gallons to self-certify for compliance instead of paying a third party. Our agriculture producers are more than capable of managing this risk, just like theymanage countless others in their daily operations,” said Cramer.

Cramer has worked extensively to reduce the amount of government regulations farmers and ranchers face in their operations. Earlier this year, he called on U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to end its labor law enforcement action against small farms with less than 10 employees.

In response, OSHA said it would instead issue new guidance after consulting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and organizations representing farmers. Cramer also cosponsored the Grazing Improvement Act, which passed the House last month and would give greater economic certainty to ranchers and landowners by extending the longevity of grazing permits and decreasing the wait period for permit renewals.

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