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Dairy Industry Wins Oil Spill Exemption

Spills that occur during the production of milk will no longer be subject to the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced.

Specifically, the EPA has amended the rule to exempt spills of milk from milk product containers, associated piping and equipment.

Prior to this announcement, all kinds of fats, including such things as vegetable oil, animal fats and milk, were considered oil for the purposes of the SPCC rule. The regulations require facilities storing more than 1,320 gallons of oil to create and implement plans to prepare, prevent and respond to oil spills.

Certain construction and sanitation standards and requirements specific to the dairy industry address the prevention of discharges in quantities that may be harmful, the EPA believes. As such, the exemption does not cover any other non-petroleum or petroleum-based oil from SPCC requirements.

Milk production has been subject to the SPCC rule since the 1970’s. The new exemption could save the agriculture industry $140 million a year, according to the EPA.

The announcement is in keeping with a recent executive order by President Obama that called on agencies to relieve some of the regulatory burden on business, according to the EPA.

Obama’s order called for federal agencies to create cost-effective, evidence-based regulations that are compatible with economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness, the agency said.

“This rule simply shouldn’t apply to [dairy farmers]… the exemption is now permanent,” said EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This step will relieve a potential burden from our nation’s dairy farms, potentially saving them money, and ensuring that the EPA can focus on the pressing business of environmental and health protection.”

The exemption has been welcomed by the dairy industry. “[We] applaud the Environmental Protection Agency for its decision to exempt milk and milk product containers from its oil spill prevention rule. The EPA has responded to our concerns about the rule and has now exempted not only milk containers at the farm and at fluid milk processing facilities, but also at all dairy processing facilities,” said International Dairy Foods Association president and CEO Connie Tipton.

This is not the first regulation that the EPA has altered in response to the President’s recent executive order.

In March, the EPA loosened rules on kits designed to convert vehicles to run on alternative fuels in an effort to streamline regulation.

Picture Credit: Bluewaikiki.com

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