Congress on Thursday passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act with a vote of 91-7, sending the bill – which includes several provisions for water infrastructure reform, and an exemption for the Environmental Protection Agency's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure rule – on to the President's desk.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association said the SPCC exemption is a crucial part of the bill, which is also supported by several other farm and transportation groups.
The current EPA SPCC rule for farms, NCBA says, requires compliance if an operation has 1,320 gallons or more of aboveground fuel storage. It also allows self-certification up to 10,000 gallons.
This requirement also encompasses aboveground feed storage in the total if it meets the broad definition of "oil." This includes the base of many liquid cattle feeds.
"Cattlemen and women have been waiting too long for a permanent fix to the SPCC rule," Bob McCan, NCBA president, said in a statement.
WRRDA storage exemption
Under the provision in the WRRDA legislation, the aggregate aboveground fuel exemption limit is raised to 6,000 gallons for operations with no history of spills and no single tank with a capacity of 10,000 gallons or more from having to develop a plan.
The provision also will require a self-certified plan for operations that have aggregate aboveground fuel storage above 6,000 and below 20,000 gallons with no history of spills and no single tank capacity of 10,000 gallons or more. Moreover, the legislation exempts fuel tanks with a capacity of 1,000 gallons or less and all tanks that hold animal feed ingredients from the aggregate calculations, NCBA said.
Those operations that do not meet these exemptions will require a Spill Containment Plan, certified by a professional engineer.
"This commonsense legislation will protect the majority of the nation's cattle producers from the burden and cost of developing a spill containment plan," said McCan. "Our operations are good stewards of their land and waters, and this provision recognizes our commitment to keeping our family and animals safe. Because we know the value in clean water, our producers have an excellent record in preventing fuel spills.
"This is a major regulatory victory for the majority of our members who live miles from town and store fuel or feed on their property," he said.
The legislation also calls for a study to be conducted by the EPA and the USDA within one year of the bill becoming law to determine whether the 6,000 gallon aggregate aboveground storage exemption level poses a significant risk of a discharge to waters of the U.S. by agricultural operations.
Based on the results of that study, the exemption level may be lowered from 6,000 gallons, but cannot be lowered below 2,500 gallons.
"We expect the President to sign WRRDA shortly and look forward to this legislation becoming law," McCan concluded.
Click here to read full text of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014.
News source: NCBA