$3 million to help farmers comply with oil spill regulation

Today the USDA announced the launch of a pilot initiative that will make up to $3 million in assistance available to agricultural producers complying with EPA’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) program.

The SPCC program (the rules of which are codified at 40 CFR 112) is intended to prevent and mitigate the discharge of oil into US waters and adjoining shorelines. The rule requires farms and other facilities to prepare and implement SPCC plans detailing preventative measures and response plans for oil spills. The funds of the pilot program are earmarked for helping farms develop and execute these plans.

Photo by 0x6612390. Some rights reserved

Of course, not every single farm is subject to SPCC regulations. According to an EPA fact sheet for farmers, only farms that store “more than 1,320 US gallons [of oil] in aboveground containers or more than 42,000 US gallons in completely buried containers,” and “could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to waters of the US” are covered by SPCC. A covered farm is responsible for preparing and implementing a plan, if it doesn’t already have one. Farms with a greater oil storage capacity (or those with a history of oil spills!) may need their plan to be certified by a professional, while other farmers may be eligible to “self-certify” plans online. Earlier this year, NRCS  jointly published guidance to help farmers determine if they need an SPCC plan and whether or not they can self-certify those plans.

Those eligible for self-certification can also use the EPA’s SPCC plan template, intended to help the owner of a qualified facility develop a self-certified plan. (The completed template may be used to comply with the SPCC regulation.) SPCC plans must be in place no later than November 10, 2011 (the compliance date was extended one year by the EPA earlier this month).

Currently, only eight states – Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and the Caribbean area – are eligible for the pilot program’s funds, which will be administrated by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Farmers interested in participating should contact the NRCS at the appropriate service center.

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