“This isn’t a plan that has to be submitted to EPA but rather one that can be filed on the farm and available for EPA inspection. This would become critical particularly during an investigation after a spill incident. In such cases those farms without a proper plan on file could be subject to hefty fines,” Caldwell added.

While the new deadline extension brings relief to farmers who say they still have questions about the program and were concerned about meeting next month’s deadline, many are still unhappy about what they term “another regulation” that complicates the business of farming.

 

But supporters of the expanded regulation argue that larger farms that have been in operation since Aug., 2002, already fall under the jurisdiction of the rule. 

“Many farms already have a SPCC plan in place. Under the expanded regulation, however, farming operations that have come on line after Aug. of 2002 are now included as well,” Caldwell Said. “This is part of a growing environmental effort to protect water quality.”

Another change in the expanded rule is the definition of just what constitutes a waterway. The wording of the original rule involved oil spills or leaks that had the potential of reaching “navigable water ways,”  implying a stream or flowing river, but Caldwell says under the expanded rule, the definition of “water source” is changing. For example, Gulf Coast farmers who have storage facilities that are not located near a navigable waterway but are subject to extreme flooding, from a hurricane, for example, are now considered at high risk for water contamination.

Caldwell says the Texas Farm Bureau has been staging a series of meetings about the rule changes all across the state to help farmers meet the new, expanded regulation. He is a topic speaker this week in a Corpus Christi Farm Bureau event for that express purpose. He says the deadline extension, however, will provide the Bureau and farmers across Texas information to prepare a better plan before the new 2013 deadline.