EPA EXTENDS OIL-SPILL RULES FOR FARMERS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to extend oil-spill rules that would have required some farms and ranches to install costly safety and monitoring equipment.
EPA's July 2002 oil-spill rules would have required 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. The new regulations had been scheduled to take affect in February 2006.
"As a result of the Alabama Farmers Federation and other agricultural groups discussing the issue with EPA, the agency has agreed to extend the rule for another year," said Federation Director of National Affairs Keith Gray. "We also are optimistic that EPA will increase the minimum exemption from the current amount of 1,320 gallons."
The rules regarding oil spills began in 1994, however, it wasn't until a couple years ago that officials considered agricultural operations under the guidelines. Earlier this year, USDA and EPA sought producer input on the oil-spill rules as they apply to agriculture. Comments received from farmers throughout the country, including Alabama, made an impact, Gray said.
"EPA has expressed an appreciation for the uniqueness of individual farm operations and how on-farm fuel is stored," Gray said. "As a result, EPA has expressed a willingness to possibly increase the minimum exemption of 1,320 gallons. The revised rule is expected to be announced in August."