May 26 2016

Fischer Introduces Bill to Alleviate Burdens for NE Producers

FUELS Act Would Provide Limited Exemption from EPA Rule Affecting On-Farm Fuel Storage

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), introduced legislation that would provide regulatory relief for Nebraska’s agriculture producers. The bill, known as the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act, would modify costly EPA regulations that could negatively affect farmers and ranchers with on-farm fuel storage. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Chairman of the EPW Committee, joined Senator Fischer as an original cosponsor of the legislation.

Senator Fischer released the following statement this afternoon regarding the legislation:

“I am proud to introduce the Senate-version of the FUELS Act, which would provide relief for farms and ranches with on-farm fuel storage from unnecessary regulations meant for oil refineries. This legislation will lower costs and cut red tape for Nebraska families who work hard to feed the world.”

Barb Cooksley, President of Nebraska Cattlemen, released the following statement in support of the FUELS Act:

“Nebraska Cattlemen appreciates Senator Fischer’s help in providing much needed regulatory relief for on-farm fuel storage. The SPCC rule would subject Nebraska’s farms and livestock operations to the same rigorous regulations as major oil refineries. The EPA’s one-sized-fits-all approach would result in excessive compliance costs and threaten our agricultural producers, the lifeblood of our state.”

Steve Nelson, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, released the following statement in support of the FUELS Act:

“We greatly appreciate the leadership Sen. Fischer has demonstrated in introducing the FUELS Act. This legislation provides a much needed, common sense and reasonable approach to how farms and ranches are to be regulated under EPA’s SPPC rule. If enacted, this legislation will save Nebraska farmers and ranchers time, money and cut through needless red tape. We look forward to working with her to secure passage of this important piece of legislation.”

The EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations were originally designed for major oil refineries, but over the past several years, the agency has threatened to subject the agriculture community to these regulations. This regulatory overreach would require farmers and ranchers to make costly structural upgrades to their facilities, placing tremendous burdens on farms and ranches when their fuel storage facilities do not pose significant risk to water quality.

In 2014, Senator Fischer successfully brokered a bipartisan provision in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, which was eventually signed into law that addressed the EPA’s SPPC rule. Fischer’s provision provided an immediate 6,000-gallon exemption for agriculture producers. Additionally, the provision required the EPA to conduct a study to review and determine the most appropriate level of exemption for on-farm fuel storage between 2,500 and 6,000 gallons, based on significant risk of discharge to water.

In June 2015, the EPA published its study on the SPCC rule, which raised further concerns that Nebraska farms would still be significantly impacted by SPCC requirements and costs.

The 2016 Water Resources and Development Act contained important provisions that would provide increased flexibility for local stakeholders and communities as they manage and protect their water. However, Senator Fischer voted against the bill during the EPW Committee’s markup of this legislation because it did not address the inadequate EPA study and the SPCC fuel storage issue, which is critically important for Nebraska.

Senator Fischer’s FUELS Act would exempt the following from the SPCC rule:

  • Farms with 10,000 gallons or less of storage.
  • Farms with an aggregate above ground storage of 10,001 to 42,000 gallons and/or no history of spills. These farms would be required to maintain a self-certified spill plan to respond to any potential spills.
  • All aggregate above ground storage tanks for animal feed ingredients, regardless of capacity. 

Click here to view text of the Senator Fischer’s legislation.

# # #

Pursuant to Senate Policy, petitions, opinion polls and unsolicited mass electronic communications cannot be initiated by this office for the 60-day period immediately before the date of a primary or general election. Subscribers currently receiving electronic communications from this office who wish to unsubscribe may do so here.