Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement after the four principals met today to discuss outstanding issues relating to the farm bill.
Lucas Praises Miller's Efforts in Protecting Dairy Producers
Tamara Hinton (202) 225-0184
WASHINGTON – Today, Ranking Member Frank Lucas praised Rep. Candice Miller for her efforts in protecting dairy producers from costly and unnecessary regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last month, Rep. Miller introduced H.R. 5426, a bill that directs the EPA to finalize a proposed rule and exempt milk from the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) program. Presently, this program treats milk like oil and requires that dairy producers have an oil spill prevention plan.
Following the introduction of Rep. Miller’s legislation on May 27 to force the EPA to finalize the exemption rule, the EPA responded to the National Milk Producers Federation on June 9 indicating it would publish a final rule in early 2011. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas, a cosponsor of the legislation, issued the following statement.
“We are lucky to have in the Congress a representative of the caliber of Candice Miller who has demonstrated bold leadership and a common sense approach to an issue that would seriously impact her constituents in Michigan and agricultural producers across our nation. The intent of the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) program is to prevent oil—not milk—from entering the navigable waters of the U.S.
"Our farmers and ranchers face significant challenges. They are suffering through a period of high production costs and the loss of international markets. They do not need additional regulatory burdens and expenses that would place further financial strain on a vital industry. Further, the EPA should be focusing its attention on the actual oil spill crisis in the Gulf region.
"I am proud to serve with Representative Miller and appreciate her efforts in protecting our agricultural producers."
Within the EPA’s regulations promulgated under the Clean Water Act is a program called Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) program. The goal of the program is to prevent oil from entering the navigable waters of the United States by requiring certain facilities to develop and implement spill prevention plans. For a facility to be regulated under the SPCC program, it must meet certain criteria: (1) the facility must store, transfer or use oil; (2) the facility must have the capacity to store more than 1,320 gallons of oil in aboveground tanks or 42,000 gallons of oil in belowground tanks; and (3) the facility must be reasonably expected to discharge oil into the water of the United States. The EPA rule states that because milk contains a certain percentage of animal fat, which is a non-petroleum oil, it is considered to be oil for the purposes of the SPCC program and should therefore be regulated under the SPCC program, which requires that a facility that stores, transfers or uses milk must develop and implement an SPCC plan.
Under the Bush administration, the EPA published several amendments to SPCC regulation. Among them was an exemption for the dairy industry from this mandate. However, the proposed rule fell victim to the Obama administration’s freeze on the previous administration’s rules and policies. For more than a year, the EPA signaled it was not willing to finalize the proposed exemption rule on dairy.