Coalition Letter to Administrator Pruitt on Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Reform

Letter

Date Sent
March 16, 2017
Sender
Multi-Industry Coalition
Recipient
Administrator Scott Pruitt
Subject
Coalition Letter to Administrator Pruitt on Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Reform
63.41 KB, PDF

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

Congratulations on your appointment as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We look forward to working with you on the many environmental challenges our country faces, and we stand prepared to help your efforts to address burdensome and overreaching regulations. One regulation we believe the agency should reconsider is the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) program’s application to farms and ranches.

As you know, SPCC regulations require producers to undertake costly infrastructure improvements to on-farm oil storage containers in order to reduce the risk of spills. In addition to these containment requirements, larger oil storage tanks must be certified by a Professional Engineer (PE), adding a significant challenge to producers located in remote rural areas that have limited access to the services of PEs. The Obama Administration expanded the SPCC regulations to an unusual threshold of 1,320 gallons without any scientific basis or consideration of standard tank sizes used in agriculture. In fact, the EPA was unable to provide any evidence of spills on agricultural operations throughout the rulemaking process[2]. Congress responded to EPA’s overreach by including provisions in the two most recent water infrastructure bills that made incremental improvements to the exemption thresholds and required EPA to go back to the drawing board and determine the appropriate exemption level (33 U.S.C. § 1361 note).  EPA’s response to Congress’s directives was inadequate because again, it failed to assess the risk of spills on agricultural facilities. The agency’s response only added more confusion to an already complicated regulatory regime.

We believe the EPA should indefinitely suspend enforcement of SPCC regulations on agricultural operations until Congress passes a permanent legislative solution that considers the relative spill risk and financial resources of individual producers. Over the last several Congresses, the House of Representatives passed the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act and similar legislation on several occasions. This legislation modifies SPCC rules to provide a realistic exemption framework by increasing the exemption threshold to 10,000 gallons for any single on-farm oil storage container. It increases the aggregate threshold and allows most farmers to self-certify compliance instead of requiring the services of a PE. We believe that a legislative solution like the FUELS Act is needed to provide long-term regulatory certainty to producers. However, in the interim, we think the agriculture industry deserves clarity, flexibility, and fairness from the EPA.

We respectfully request that you use any tool available to provide regulatory relief to farmers and ranchers who are overly burdened by the costs and difficulties associated with SPCC compliance.  We appreciate your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

 

[1] 112th: H.R. 3158; 113th: H.R. 311, H. Amdt. 224 to H.R. 1947; 114th: H. Amdt. 605 to H.R. 2822; H. Amdt. 1323 to H.R. 5538

[2] Environmental Protection Agency; Oil Pollution Prevention; Non-Transportation Related Onshore and Offshore Facilities, 74 Fed. Reg. 117,29136 (June 19, 2009) (codified at 40 C.F.R. Pt. 112).