FUELS Act passes Senate

Farm Forum

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) hailed the passage of the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act (S. 496), which was passed by unanimous consent by the Senate as an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which will be considered by the Senate next week. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Sens. Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Pryor (D-Ark.) revises the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) program enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). SPCC regulations call for agricultural operations to develop an SPCC plan if the farm has an above ground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons or a buried oil storage capacity of 42,000 gallons.

Under the FUELS Act, the burden of the SPCC regulation is eased by raising exemption and self-certified levels for on-farm fuel storage. The legislation exempts farms with a storage capacity of 6,000 gallons or less from having to develop an SPCC plan. The legislation also allows more operations to self-certify by raising the self-certify level to up to 20,000 gallons of fuels storage. Operations with greater than 20,000 gallons will be required to have a Professional Engineer (P.E.) certified spill plan.

“While NCBA would have liked an exemption level of 10,000 gallons like the original language called for, ultimately the Senate-passed version of the FUELS Act will save many farmers and ranchers from expensive spill plans,” said NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald. “NCBA will continue to work with the House to get the legislation passed in that chamber.”

McDonald added that the FUELS Act also excludes from calculation of aggregate above ground fuel storage all tanks that have a capacity of 1,000 gallons or less and all tanks holding animal feed ingredients approved for livestock feed by the Food & Drug Administration, a provision very important to cattle producers.