Many of these producers store fuel in aboveground tanks on their property. Often, this is because they live miles from the towns where they can refuel.
While most fuel storage tanks are located miles from major waterways, Washington wants to regulate them anyway.
Despite the EPA’s limited understanding of production agriculture, the agency believes these fuel tanks threaten water quality. Under a regulation intended for major oil refineries, known as the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, the EPA wants to restrict the amount of fuel our ag producers can store on their land. This rule would force families to make costly upgrades to fuel storage tanks. It would also impose heavy fines if these tanks go over the on-farm fuel limit exemption mandated by the federal government.
As a cattle rancher, I understand the negative impact this mandate would have on our agriculture community. As your U.S. senator, I am doing something about it.
Last Congress, I successfully brokered a bipartisan provision in the 2014 Water Resources Reform Development Act, which was signed into law. My provision protected Nebraska’s ag community from the SPCC rule by implementing a 6,000-gallon exemption for on-farm fuel storage. It also required the EPA to conduct a study to examine and determine the exemption threshold for on-farm fuel storage. The study was released last year and it quickly became clear that the results were based on flawed data.
EPA regulators claim we need this rule to protect water quality, but the facts tell a different story. In its study, the EPA failed to show that on-farm fuel storage poses a significant risk to water quality. The report cited seven examples of significant fuel spills, yet none of them occurred on a farm or ranch. Even more misleading, they pointed to one spill in particular that leaked 3,000 gallons of fuel. The only problem is, the liquid was jet fuel, something I have yet to find on farms in Nebraska.
Nebraska’s ag community remains under threat by this burdensome rule and for no reason. That’s why, last month, I introduced a bill that will address this issue head on.
My legislation, known as the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship or “FUELS” Act, would provide relief for Nebraska families with on-farm fuel storage tanks. This bill completely exempts farms and ranches with 10,000 gallons or less of on-farm fuel storage. This exemption would also apply to farms with larger storage capacities of up to 42,000 gallons and no history of fuel spills. Finally, regardless of capacity, the exemption applies to livestock operations with animal feed ingredient storage tanks.
Both the Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Cattlemen strongly support this legislation. I was glad to work with them to help ensure producers are not harmed by this unnecessary federal red tape.
We all want clean water. We all want to maintain a healthy environment. But the citizens of Nebraska know how to protect our state’s resources better than bureaucrats in Washington.
Through common-sense legislation like the FUELS Act, we can work together to provide regulatory relief. I will continue this work to lower costs and cut red tape so that our ag producers can support their families.
Thank you for taking part in our democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week