Pilot program helps ranchers comply with oil-spill regs

by Bryan Salvage
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PEMBINA, N.D. – The Department of Agriculture announced a pilot initiative in eight states to help agricultural producers comply with revised regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency intended to prevent and mitigate fuel and oil spills on their operations. States participating in the NRCS pilot are: Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and the Caribbean area.

"An important part of our mission at USDA is helping farmers and ranchers develop plans to protect human health and the environment, including assistance complying new regulations," said Dave White, chief of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "This new pilot program will help agricultural producers meet a new regulatory requirement designed to reduce the dangers of on-farm oil spills."

Administered by NRCS, the pilot program will provide up to $3 million to help farmers and ranchers comply with EPA's Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Program (SPCC). The agency will help develop or update existing spill prevention plans that avoid and mitigate on-farm oil spillage. SPCC plans must be in place no later than November 10, 2011.

Due to the small amount of stored fuel and oil on most operations up to 84% of farmers and ranchers are able to "self certify" by completing an online template. Operators with above ground storage capacity of 10,000 gallons or more are required to have a plan prepared by a registered Professional Engineer.

NRCS developed an interim conservation practice standard for secondary oil and fuel containment. Technical Service Providers can use this interim practice to help them design oil/fuel containment facilities conforming to EPA regulation. Funding from NRCS is available to assist in developing SPCC plans and implementing the secondary oil and fuel containment conservation practices.

Farmers and ranchers in the participating states who need assistance should contact NRCS at their nearest USDA Service Center. For more information online visit:

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