Sen. Deb Fischer looking to roll back EPA fuel storage regulation

Sen. Fischer (R-NE) says the EPA's rule has inflicted a serious cost on family farms.
Sen. Fischer (R-NE) says the EPA's rule has inflicted a serious cost on family farms. (GRAYDC)
Published: Jun. 9, 2017 at 1:14 PM CDT
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Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) is trying to cut down on federal overreach. She is pushing legislation that she says will make farmers’ lives easier. Farmers have reached out to the senator asking for a remedy to strict fuel storage rules.

Revving up the engine is a part of everyday life for Nebraska farmer Shane Greving. To make that engine go he needs fuel. But Greving says the federal government has put a strain on his fuel storage. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure limited the amount of fuel a container can hold on a personal farm.

“On a farm and a ranch I don’t think it’s a necessity. It’s a little bit of overreach,” said Greving.

He says the rule makes sense for major refineries but not for your average farmer. This rule says farms need to adjust their aboveground fuel storage plan if they have more than 2500 gallons of fuel. This requires farmers to build more than one storage facility.

“It’d cost thousands of dollars to have an engineer design a plan and then design a containment system,” said Greving.

Sen. Fischer says this rule is burdensome for farmers, so she’s pushing legislation to exempt farmers from the rule.

“It is a pretty big deal to be able to go back to the common sense way that we always used to store fuel on our farms and ranches,” said Fischer.

She says the rule was crafted by bureaucrats who don’t understand what it takes to run a farm. Phil Wallach from the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution says like it or not, these regulations were imposed by elected officials.

“The cost of those may fall on some people more than others but that’s how we’ve decided to allocate them for now,” said Wallach.

Wallach says while the Republican Congress and White House look to roll back EPA regulations, it’s not like it can be done with the flip of a switch.

“They’re having a great deal of trouble coordinating around any legislation right now so in terms of how much they would be able to change environmental laws by enacting new statutes, I think it’s really unclear right now,” said Wallach.

Senator Fischer’s legislation currently sits in the Committee on Environment and Public Works.