Obama's EPA Regulating Milk the Same as Oil

May 27, 2010

Tamara Hinton (202) 225-0184

WASHINGTON – Rep. Candice Miller introduced legislation today that would prohibit the enforcement of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that treat milk the same as oil.  House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas, a cosponsor of the legislation, issued the following statement.

“This is a common sense bill that will bring certainty to an uncertain situation.  America’s dairy industry needs to know that their businesses will not be the victim of unintended consequences.  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.

“In light of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there can be no refuting the importance of establishing preventive measures to safe-guard against future ecological disasters.  However, there is no reason the EPA should be treating milk as if it was a hazard to America’s waterways. This is just the latest example of an out of touch EPA.  It seems as if every day we wake up to find the Obama Administration pursuing one extreme agenda item after another with an arrogant disregard for the impact these policies will have on America’s agriculture producers.

“To treat milk the same as you would oil by regulating it under the SPCC program would impose costly burdens on an already overburdened industry.  It would not only result in more regulation of the dairy industry, but it would also cost dairy farmers thousands of dollars to come into compliance.

“This is an easy fix to a problem created entirely by the EPA.  This bill does not change existing law; it simply directs the EPA to move forward with the exemption already drafted and approved by the agency.  I applaud Rep. Miller for taking the initiative on this important issue.”


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 regulations 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.  Since then, EPA has signaled that it is not willing to finalize the proposed exemption rule on dairy.  Rep. Miller’s bill would force the EPA to finalize the exemption rule.