Why lots of ‘ordinary Americans’ dislike the EPA
President Obama says he wants to purge regulations that are “just plain dumb,” like his humorous State of the Union bit about salmon. So perhaps he should review a new rule that is supposed to prevent oil spills akin to the Gulf Coast disaster—at the nation’s dairy farms.
Two weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule that subjects dairy producers to the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure program, which was created in 1970 to prevent oil discharges in navigable waters or near shorelines. Naturally, it usually applies to oil and natural gas outfits. But the EPA has discovered that milk contains “a percentage of animal fat, which is a non-petroleum oil,” as the agency put it in the Federal Register.
In other words, the EPA thinks the next blowout may happen in rural Vermont or Wisconsin. Other dangerous pollution risks that somehow haven’t made it onto the EPA docket include leaks from maple sugar taps and the vapors at Badger State breweries.
The EPA rule requires farms—as well as places that make cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream and the like—to prepare and implement an emergency management plan in the event of a milk catastrophe. Among dozens of requirements, farmers must train first responders in cleanup protocol and build “containment facilities” such as dikes or berms to mitigate offshore dairy slicks.
These plans must be in place by November, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is even running a $3 million program “to help farmers and ranchers comply with on-farm oil spill regulations.” You cannot make this stuff up.
The final rule is actually more lenient than the one the EPA originally proposed. The agency tried to claim jurisdiction over the design specifications of “milk containers and associated piping and appurtenances,” until the industry pointed out that such equipment was already overseen by the Food and Drug Administration, the USDA and state inspectors. The EPA conceded, “While these measures are not specifically intended for oil spill prevention, we believe they may prevent discharges of oil in quantities that are harmful.”
We appreciate Mr. Obama’s call for more regulatory reason, but it would be more credible if one of his key agencies wasn’t literally crying over unspilled milk.
And before you say “well, the agricultural ___ does need to be regulated”…don’t. If milk runoff is a problem, the solution should be specific to milk runoff.
When the EPA co-opts a petroleum spill framework to address the dangerous milk disaster scenario, ordinary americans wonder how in the name of Beelzebub the EPA should be trusted to regulate CO2. At least, it’s what two ordinary Americans here in Ohio just said. Don’t shoot the messenger.