COMMENTS SOUGHT FOR NEW EPA OIL-SPILL REGULATIONS
CHS Energy and its federal affairs office in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the USDA, are looking for producer input on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) oil-spill rules as they apply to agriculture.
EPA's July 2002 oil-spill rules would require farms and ranches with more than 1,320 gallons of oil storage - including vegetable, animal fat and petroleum products - to build berms around tanks, install fencing, monitor and test integrity of tanks and implement an oil-spill plan approved by a certified professional engineer, explains Bob Looney, CHS director of federal affairs.
As part of an ag coalition in Washington, CHS has been able to get the rules delayed twice, Looney says, but EPA is preparing to implement the requirements in February 2006. The previous delays occurred partly because EPA lacks survey data to justify exempting farms, he adds.
Alabama Farmers Federation National Affairs Director Keith Gray said it's important for affected producers to respond to the survey.
"If USDA doesn't have adequate data, there will be no justification for EPA to exempt agriculture from these costly rules," Gray said.
CHS and the ag oil-spill coalition are working with USDA to develop two surveys - one for farms and one for cooperatives. Surveys could be made available by mail, e-mail, or on an interactive website.
"Unless farmers provide this survey data to help change the agency's thinking, EPA will implement a new oil spill control rule that will be very costly to our farmers," says Looney.
"If we want to get most producers exempted, we need our members to respond to the surveys when they come out," Looney said.