EPA Streamlines Spill Control Requirements for Small Firms

            I am pleased to report the successful conclusion of a major environmental effort by our office.  In response to an effort that Advocacy initiated in 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a second rule governing oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response in December.

            EPA realized that its original SPCC (spill prevention, control, and countermeasure) rule put an unnecessary burden on firms that did not significantly contribute to the oil spill problem that the agency was attempting to address.  The revised rule takes up issues raised by Advocacy in a June 2004 comment letter and report, and contains many of the changes later suggested by us in February 2006 comments.  This result demonstrates how rules can be improved by collaboration between Advocacy, the regulated community, and EPA.  The collaboration was like a Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act panel proceeding, with many of the benefits of that kind of collaboration, without the formal procedures of a panel

            The reformed SPCC program (including the 2006 and 2008 reforms) provides relief to small facilities that handle small amounts of oil by allowing them to use streamlined requirements and avoid the expense of retaining a professional engineer.

            Advocacy worked with a large community of trade associations in this effort to craft regulatory alternatives for EPA’s consideration.  A small facility coalition, led by Doug Greenhaus of the National Automotive Dealers Association, was instrumental in developing the “small facility” concept that the agency ultimately adopted. Dee Gavora, representing the American Forest and Paper Association; Bill Weissman of Venable LLP, representing the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group; and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association were the sparkplugs in the small facility coalition. 

            I also commend EPA Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine, who is largely responsible for pushing the concept of streamlining the rule for small firms.  In addition, Debbie Dietrich, Craig Matthiessen, Mark Howard, and the entire SPCC team worked tirelessly for thousands of hours to develop two proposed rules and two final rules in a very short period of time – a highly unusual accomplishment.

            More information about SPCC can be found on EPA’s website.  A chronology of Advocacy’s four-year effort on behalf of small business is available on ours.

–Kevin Bromberg, Assistant Chief Counsel

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