U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), this week reintroduced legislation to provide regulatory relief for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. The bill, known as the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act, builds on her past efforts to modify costly EPA regulations that could negatively affect ag producers with on-farm fuel storage.
Across Nebraska and our nation, ag producers store fuel in aboveground tanks on their property. Often, this is because they live miles from the towns where they can refuel. A regulation intended for major oil refineries, known as the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, would affect the amount of fuel producers can store on their land. It would force families to make costly upgrades to fuel storage tanks and would also impose heavy fines if these tanks go over the on-farm fuel limit exemption mandated by the federal government.
“The FUELS Act is common-sense legislation that would provide Nebraska farmers and ranchers with relief from a burdensome federal rule that’s meant for oil refineries. In the past, we have been successful in providing limited exemptions to this rule, but there’s more work to do. Through the bill I’m reintroducing today, Congress can cut red tape for our ag producers so they can continue do their jobs and support their families,” said Fischer.
The FUELS Act would:
- Provide an exemption for farms with 10,000 gallons or less of aggregate aboveground oil storage capacity.
- Allow farms with an aggregate above ground storage of 10,001 to 42,000 gallons and/or no history of spills to maintain a self-certified spill plan to respond to any potential spills.
- Maintain full rule compliance, including certification from a professional engineer for farms with:
- An individual tank with an above ground storage capacity greater than 10,000 gallons and/or,
- An aggregate above ground storage capacity greater than 42,000 gallons and/or,
- A reported discharge history
- Amend the threshold for individual tank and aggregate capacity on separate land parcels by
- Increasing the individual tank capacity from 1,000 gallons to 1,320 gallons
- Increasing the aggregate capacity from 2,000 gallons to 3,000 gallons
Senator Fischer has been successful in her past efforts to modify the SPCC rule. Last year, Fischer negotiated a bipartisan provision, which was signed into law as part of the WIIN Act. The language fully exempts animal feed tanks from the SPCC rule. It also provides greater flexibility for producers with on-farm fuel storage by exempting up to 2,500 gallons of capacity on remote or separate parcels of land (as long as these tanks are not larger than 1,000 gallons each).