Tester to EPA: Listen to Montanans’ concerns over fuel tanks
Senator says agency must help farmers and ranchers understand new regs
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is telling the Environmental Protection Agency to hold off on new regulations of fuel storage tanks until the agency “fully notifies” Montana farmers and ranchers about the impact of the new rules.
The EPA wants to require more farmers and ranchers to prepare oil spill prevention and containment plans for their fuel tanks, but the agency has not made it clear who will be affected by the change. Under the new rules, Montanans who store more than 1,320 gallons of fuel on their property would have to list all oil containers, outline steps to prevent a spill, and demonstrate measures to keep spills from reaching water.
Tester says the agency did a poor job explaining the new rules and must carefully evaluate the impact on rural Montana.
“With little more than a year before these rules are supposed to go into effect, many farmers and ranchers continue to have questions about their deadlines and the certification process,” Tester wrote EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “I urge you not to implement new fuel tank regulations until producers are fully notified about how these rules will affect their business.”
Tester, the Senate’s only active farmer, says that the EPA must work with the Agriculture Department to better spread the word and work with Montanans.
“As a farmer, I must remind you that ordinary producers in Montana are too busy with everyday work to follow every posting in the Federal Register, and most don’t have time to check the EPA’s website,” Tester added. “It is the EPA’s responsibility to make certain farmers and ranchers know what’s coming, and to be available to work with them.”
Tester recently called for the Labor Department to withdraw a controversial proposal restricting the work of young people on family farms and ranches, saying that it prevents kids from learning a solid work ethic.
Tester’s letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is available below and online HERE.
March 2, 2012
The Honorable Lisa Jackson
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Jackson:
I appreciated the opportunity to talk with you and your staff about the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) regulations of fuel tanks on farms and ranches. I continue to be very concerned your agency has not adequately explained these rules or educated the public about them. And with little more than a year before these rules are supposed to go into effect, many farmers and ranchers are unaware of them.
Many farmers and ranchers in Montana continue to have questions about these rules, their deadlines, the certification process, and whether they can certify themselves. I urge you not to implement new fuel tank regulations until the EPA ensures that producers are fully notified about whether and how these rules will affect their business.
The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Montana is devoting some assistance to producers in either preparing SPCC plans for their farms and ranches, or contracting with professional engineers to do so. I urge you to ramp up your outreach in Montana and to work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This will benefit producers who are unaware of the upcoming requirements, helping them take advantage of available funding before the March 16th deadline.
As a farmer, I must remind you that ordinary producers in Montana are too busy with everyday work to follow every posting in the Federal Register, and most don't have time to regularly check the EPA's website. As the agency implements new regulations, it is the EPA's responsibility to make certain farmers and ranchers know what's coming, and to be available to work with them through the process.
United States Senator