Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) announced this evening that the United States Senate has unanimously adopted a bipartisan amendment to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which she introduced with Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Jim Inhofe (R-Okl.), to change unnecessary, burdensome environmental regulations that would adversely impact American farmers. Specifically, the amendment modifies the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule scheduled to go into effect on May 10, 2013 and to be enforced at the end of September 2013. Upon adoption of the amendment, Senator Fischer released the following statement:

“The Senate’s unanimous approval of this amendment is a huge victory for farmers throughout Nebraska and across America, who are dealing with onerous new regulations for their on-farm fuel tanks. These misguided EPA rules have a direct impact on producers, who faced incredible compliance costs and paperwork requirements; inability to meet these new standards would result in the risk of stiff fines and penalties from EPA. This bipartisan amendment raises the exemption levels for fuel storage capacity to better reflect the spill risk and financial resources of farms.

“Nebraskans know that one size does not fit all, particularly when it comes to regulations impacting the agriculture industry. Throughout the past several months, hundreds of constituents contacted my office to express their concern about EPA's new SPCC regulation. I am pleased this bipartisan amendment goes a long way in providing common sense regulatory relief for Nebraska

The EPA regulation would affect any facility with a fuel storage capacity of more than 1,320 gallons, which includes a majority of Nebraska farms. The amendment provides for an immediate 6,000-gallon exemption, with a study to review and determine the most appropriate level of exemption for those tanks with storage capacities between 2,500 and 6,000 gallons. In addition, the legislation increases the oil storage threshold to determine whether a professional engineer must certify a facility's SPCC plan from 10,000 gallons to 20,000 gallons.

Senators Fischer, Pryor, and Inhofe previously introduced the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act (FUELS Act) to address this issue. Fischer also raised the issue during the confirmation hearing of Gina McCarthy, the president's nominee to lead the EPA.

NOTE: The Senate will resume consideration of WRDA and remaining amendments tomorrow.