"FUELS Act" Eases Regulatory Burden on Ala. Farmers

UPDATE: 6:02 p.m.

Farmers follow strict guidelines to store their fuel.

Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby has co-sponsored a bill to ease those regulations.

"If I'm trying to meet regulations, i can not be in the field on my farm raising a crop to provide income for my family and to feed the world, " says local farmer, Thomas Adams.

Adams is excited the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship, or FUELS Act is moving through the legislature.

The bill aims to modify current farm fuels regulations.

"It has had a negative impact on farmers all across the country but especially in Alabama and representative Roby heard directly from farmers who are doing nothing wrong, they had no history of accidents or environmental problems but they're being forced to comply with over reaching federal regulations and it's just not fair, " says Todd Stacy, Communications Director at Representative Martha Roby's office

The act passed the House of Representatives Tuesday.

It's goal is to minimize the regulations small farms have to follow when it comes to fuel storage.

"Most farms are in compliance now, but what the difference is it would require us to hire an engineering firm to draw us up or implement a spill prevention plan which could run anywhere on the low side of $4,000 on up, just whatever the engineering firm said you would be required to do, " says Adams.

If the fuels act becomes law, it will mean a break for farmers.

"Congresswoman Roby has introduced legislation, which passed the house which exempted farmers, the small farmers from being required to have an engineering firm draw up a plan and be able to self certify if you've had an excellent history with no spillage. Regulation is killing small business everyday and we cannot continue to make a living and fight Washington everyday on regulations," says Adams.

The FUELS Act now heads to the Senate.

There's no timetable of when they'll vote on it.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) today celebrated passage of a bill aimed to ease over burdensome regulations for farmers.

The Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship, or FUELS Act, which Rep. Roby co-sponsored, modifies the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) unworkable and unnecessary farm fuel storage regulation. The rule has negatively impacted farmers throughout Alabama, many of whom relayed their concerns to Rep. Roby.

“I've heard from many farmers who are being forced to spend thousands of dollars on superfluous infrastructure and compliance services," Rep. Roby said. "The FUELS Act rightsizes EPA regulations to truly reflect risk, saving responsible farmers the expense and hassle of complying with unnecessary bureaucratic rules."

Rep. Roby and chief FUELS Act sponsor Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) originally pushed to include the reform in the recently-enacted Farm Bill. When the final bill did not include language easing EPA farm fuel regulations, lawmakers moved swiftly to pass a standalone bill.

“When Alabamians have trouble with the federal government, my job is to step in and try to help them. Over regulation by the EPA is driving up costs and placing an unfair burden on small family farms. I'm pleased we were able to find a solution to this problem and get some much-needed relief for Alabama farmers.

"I urge the Senate to quickly pass this bi-partisan bill and send it on to the president."

For years, regulations for fuel storage authorized under the Clean Water Act of 1972 applied only to large farming operations. In 2009, the EPA aggressively expanded the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rules to include farms with relatively small fuel storage capacity and no history of accidents. By enforcing these new rules, the EPA forces farmers to spend thousands of dollars on special equipment and services.

The FUELS Act returns the exemption threshold to an appropriate level of less than 10,000 gallon aboveground storage capacity for a single fuel tank. Farmers with storage capacity aggregate between the 10,000 gallon and 42,000 gallon threshold without a history of accidents would be allowed to self-certify their Clean Water Act compliance with the EPA.

Rep. Roby has made it a priority to seek out costly, unnecessary regulations that unduly harm businesses, farms, and individuals in Alabama. A recent study found the regulatory cost per household in the United States to be $14,678 or 23.2% of the national average family income.

The House passed the FUELS Act on Tuesday by an unanimous voice vote.


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