U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has cosponsored legislation that will expedite a decision from Environmental Protection Agency to exempt dairy farmers from regulations that would require them to develop and implement prevention plans for milk spills.
The rules would call for dairy producers to create the same type of prevention plans that oil companies use to deal with oil spills. The proposed regulation would mean that dairy farms with 1,320 gallons of milk stored would have to develop a spill response plan which, in some cases, can cost thousands of dollars.
"Subjecting our dairy farmers to rules that were designed for massive oils spills and toxic substances not only is unnecessary but also creates a financial burden," said Klobuchar. "This bill acts quickly to exempt dairy farmers from these excessive regulations and to remove an extra obstacle that our dairy producers would face."
As part of the Clean Water Act, the EPA has the authority over the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures program. The SPCC program contains regulations to ensure that facilities that store or use significant quantities of oil or toxic substances develop a prevention plan in case of spills. The EPA's definition of oil within the SPCC regulation includes milk because of its animal fat content, and due to this classification, dairy producers would be required to develop a SPCC plan. Milk storage is already regulated under a Food and Drug Administration rule called the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
In January of 2009, EPA suggested potentially exempting milk storage from SPCC regulations, but has not yet reached a decision. The compliance date for this regulation is November 10, 2010. The legislation will expedite the EPA's rule exempting milk storage containers from SPCC regulations in advance of the November 2010 SPCC compliance deadline.
Minnesota is the sixth largest dairy producing state and is home to nearly a half million dairy cows, which together produce nearly nine billion pounds of dairy products each year. Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee
The legislation Klobuchar is cosponsoring was introduced by Senators Mike Johanns, R-Neb., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.).