H.R. 3158: Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act

H.R. 3158

Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act

Date
August 1, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3158, the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval.  The bill was introduced on October 12, 2011, by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) and referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3158 would require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), when implementing the Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule on any farm, to require compliance only with respect to certain oil storage facilities. Specifically, the bill would amend the EPA’s rules by raising the size of oil storage facilities that are exempt from the rule and modifying compliance certification requirements. Under current rules announced by the EPA, any farm with oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons would be required to meet EPA storage compliance.

Under the legislation, oil storage compliance certification would be required as follows:

  • Oil storage compliance certification would be required by a professional engineer for any farm with:
    • An individual tank with a storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons.
    • An aggregate storage capacity greater than or equal to 42,000 gallons.
    • A history of spills.
  • If the farm had no history of spills, compliance certification by the owner or operator of the farm via self-certification would be required for an aggregate storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons but less than 42,000 gallons.

The bill would exempt any farm with an aggregate storage capacity of at least 10,000 gallons and no history of spills from compliance certification. Finally, the bill would exclude all containers on separate parcels that have a capacity that is less than 1,320 gallons from the aggregate storage capacity of a farm.

 

Background

Recently, the EPA promulgated amended requirements of the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, which farmers would be required to comply with by May 10, 2013. According to the EPA, “Oil spills endanger public health, impact drinking water, devastate natural resources, and disrupt the economy. Every effort must be made to prevent oil spills and to clean them up promptly once they occur. The purpose of the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule is to help facilities and farms prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. A key element of the SPCC rule requires farms and other facilities to develop, maintain and implement an oil spill prevention plan, called an SPCC Plan.”

However, some have cited requirements of the new rule as onerous, costly, and unnecessary regulations that would require that oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons make costly structural improvements to reduce the possibility of oil spills. According to the sponsor’s office, “The plan requires farmers to construct a containment facility, like a dike or a basin, which must retain 110 percent of the fuel in the container. These mandated infrastructure improvements, along with the necessary inspection and certification by a specially licensed Professional Engineer will cost farmers tens of thousands of dollars.”  The sponsor’s office also notes that the regulations would unduly impact small farms that have not had a history of spills.

As the sponsor’s office states, “The FUELS Act would modify the rules by raising the exemption levels to better reflect a producer’s spill risk and financial resources. The exemption level for a single container would be adjusted upward to 10,000 gallons while the aggregate level on a production facility would move to 42,000 gallons. The proposal would also place a greater degree of responsibility on the farmer or rancher to self-certify compliance if it exceeds the exemption level. The FUELS Act is getting wide spread praise from the agricultural community.”

Cost

According to CBO enacting the bill would result in an insignificant loss of annual revenue beginning in 2013.