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Milk exempted from oil spill regs

April 28, 2011

NATION — Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formally exempted milk and milk containers from the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule, potentially saving the milk and dairy industries more than $140 million a year.

Since the 1970s, all kinds of oils, including animal fats like those contained in milk and vegetable oils, had been considered oils under the EPA rule, with special requirements for storage and handling to keep them out of waterways.

Requirements for farmers included measures such as building concrete dikes around milk tanks and drafting milk spill hazard control plans.

The spill-prevention requirements were never actually enforced, but the potential for enforcement remained.Samuel Kieffer, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s national governmental relations director, said, “There were two different deadlines where EPA said, ‘Be prepared to do this.’ There was the uncertainty of the farmers getting their ducks in a row and worried EPA would come on their farm and stick it to them.”

EPA said it acted to formally exempt the dairy industry from the rules “as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to make regulations more effective and eliminate unnecessary burdens.”