Senator Tester tells USDA to help Montana producers with fuel tank spill control


Senator Jon Tester is pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase assistance for Montana farmers and ranchers working to meet new rules designed to prevent and prepare for possible spills from fuel storage tanks.

Tester wants the USDA to expand a pilot initiative to Montana that helped producers prepare spill prevention and control plans and build structures to contain spills.  The USDA previously operated the initiative in eight states, but not Montana.

Tester’s request comes as the deadline for the EPA’s new rules on fuel storage tanks draws closer.  Under the new rules, Montana producers who store more than 1,320 gallons of fuel on their property would have to list all oil containers, outline steps to prevent a spill, and demonstrate measures to keep spills from reaching water.

“Demand for assistance already has exceeded the funding provided,” Tester wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  “I ask that you make resources available to assist producers in complying with the rules.”

Montana farmers and ranchers received limited assistance through the state’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, but the state was not chosen to participate in USDA’s pilot initiative.

Tester previously told the EPA that it needed to hold off on the new fuel tank regulations until the agency did a better job notifying Montana farmers and ranchers about the impact of the new rules.

“As a farmer, I must remind you that ordinary producers in Montana are too busy with everyday work to follow every posting in the Federal Register, and most don’t have time to check the EPA’s website,” Tester told EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

The USDA funds multiple initiatives that help farmers and ranchers meet environmental rules.

Source: Office of Senator Tester