Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy requested clarification as to the agency's interpretation of its authority regarding the enforcement of the Spill, Prevention, Containment and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule on farms. The senators say they have been alerted that EPA is "informing agriculture producers that it does have the authority to begin enforcing the SPCC rule retroactively beginning Sept. 23."
EPA extended the original compliance deadline to May 10, 2013, to allow time for the agency to reach out to the ag community regarding the rule. As it became apparent EPA would fail to "adequately educate farmers about the rule" ahead of this deadline, the Senate adopted and ultimately passed an amendment to the Continuing Resolution appropriations bill that prohibits EPA from enforcing the rule against farmers until Sept. 23, 2013.
Further, the Senate adopted an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act that would permanently exempt most farmers from the SPCC rule, and while the House has not yet taken up this bill, it does include a similar provision as part of its farm-only farm bill that passed the chamber in July.
Therefore, Inhofe and Pryor say Congress "has clearly established its intent to limit the impact of th SPCC rule on the agriculture sector, and to ultimately exempt the majority of it from having to comply ... If the the agency does plan to retroactively enforce the rule, will you please explain why you are doing this despite the clear, bipartisan steps Congress has taken over the past few months to limit this rule's impact on the agriculture community."
Read the letter in its entirety or learn more about EPA's SPCC for agriculture.