House eases oil storage rules for farmers

The House voted Tuesday to relax federal rules that require farmers to undertake expensive infrastructure improvements if they store oil on the premises.

Members approved the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act, H.R. 311, in a voice vote after a brief debate.

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Under current rules, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires farms to take steps to guard against oil spills if they store a certain level of oil on their farms.

"The EPA-mandated SPCC, or Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures rules requires that oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons make costly infrastructure modifications to reduce the possibility of oil spills," said Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), the sponsor of the bill.

Crawford said these rules can be very costly to small farms. His bill would exempt farms storing fewer than 10,000 gallons of oil, which Crawford said would exempt most small farms.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said she had concerns with the bill, and said it's not clear Congress should create such a broad exemption. However, she did not call for a recorded vote after it was approved by voice.

Crawford noted that the noncontroversial bill has been approved several times by the House over the last few years, including as an amendment to the farm bill. However, it has yet to advance in the Senate.

Soon after, the House voice-voted H.Res. 506, a nonbinding resolution honoring former Czech Republic President Václav Havel. The resolution calls for a bust of Havel to be displayed in the Capitol.