NAWG and 14 other groups provided yet another set of comments on the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule late last week, emphasizing a number of areas in need of more investigation before compliance is mandatory for farm operations.
The SPCC rule requires regulated facilities to develop and implement plans to help prevent oil discharges from reaching navigable waters. SPCC regulations were first issued in 1974, but did not touch agriculture until 2002. As a result, much of the agricultural sector has yet to even hear of the SPCC rule, though NAWG and other groups have been working on the issue with EPA for a number of years.
The coalition’s latest comments outlined specific actions the groups believe EPA should take in the process of applying the SPCC rule to agriculture.
The groups strongly encouraged EPA to consult with USDA to evaluate the threat the ag industry actually presents and the number of agricultural operations potentially affected by SPCC.
They also requested the Agency produce data needed to establish a meaningful trigger for the agricultural sector – rather than simply applying a 10,000-gallon aggregate trigger – and work with USDA to accurately calculate the costs of this rule to the agricultural sector.
The coalition recommended the Agency establish one compliance deadline for all covered sectors, and asked EPA adopt a five-year compliance deadline for farms after the date of final publication. Unofficial estimates from EPA and USDA show it can take a year for farmers to become aware of new regulations, so expected compliance time for an unknown, undebated, complicated rule like SPCC could be significantly longer.
The groups also asked that EPA consider the option of self-certification for all farms and establish a sufficient timeframe for producers to respond to compliance disagreements without disturbing their farm operations.
A number of past coalition comments on SPCC are available online at www.wheatworld.org/issues/environmentalissues/.
More on the SPCC rule itself is at http://www.epa.gov/OEM/content/spcc/index.htm