EPA has issued a final rule exempting milk, milk product containers and milk production equipment from Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations. Effective June 17, 2011, the rule could potentially save the milk and dairy industries more than $140 million a year by eliminating “unnecessary burdens,” according to EPA.

Implemented in the 1970s to protect U.S. inland waters and shorelines, SPCC regulations require facilities storing more than 1,320 gallons of oil to “create and implement plans to prepare, prevent and respond to oil spills.” The exemption does not apply to “fuel oil and other applicable oils stored on farms, farms that store the regulatory threshold of fuel oil and other applicable oils covered under the SPCC.” Because some facilities may still have oil storage subject to SPCC regulations, the rule also excludes milk storage capacity from a facility’s total oil storage capacity calculation and removes compliance date requirements for exempted containers.

“After working closely with dairy farmers and other members of the agricultural community, we’re taking commonsense steps to exempt them from a provision in this rule that simply shouldn’t apply to them,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said. See EPA Press Release, April 12, 2011; Federal Register, April 18, 2011.