Greetings from under the Golden Dome,
Action here at the State House becomes strange this time of year. Erratic may be a better term. There are days when legislation is being bounced from chamber to chamber and little, if any, floor debate takes place.
There are also days when we have numerous groups here advocating their positions on various issues, mixed in with debate. One thing is certain, everyone is anxious to do what needs to be done and go home, the wait that accompanies this can be frustrating.
I have had several calls concerning EPA rules that are to be implemented in 2013. These rules that will be enforced by the federal EPA deal with on-farm fuel storage and on the secondary containment needed to prevent spills that could affect the environment.
Farmers are law abiding citizens who do the right thing by complying with rules and regulations that are reasonable and follow sound practices that protect the environment. Currently, the state fire marshal has rules and guidelines for above ground tank storage that are different than the proposed EPA rules.
My main goal has been to understand these differences so that producers are not caught in the middle and that realistic requirements can be followed. Yesterday I set up and attended a meeting with the state fire marshal's office and representatives from the Iowa DNR to determine the differences. What I discovered is the interpretations of the EPA rules are piecemealed and inconclusive until they are finalized at the federal level.
The state rules require registration and storage requirements on tanks of 1,100 or more gallons while the EPA rules are established at 1,320 total gallons, regardless of the number of tanks. That sounds clear, but they are interpreted differently and the federal guidelines will supersede the state requirements. Ironically, the EPA, even though they plan to implement in 2013, has not finalized their process and interpretation of their own rules which will lead to confusion and unclear standards to the tank owners.
I did not get a firm answer on many of my questions which included: If I own more than one site which I store fuel will that be considered separate or cumulative in the calculation; If I am currently below the gallon level that the rules kick in at and I add a tank that is double-walled, which according to the regulators is secondary containment, does the new tank put me over the threshold? I also inquired about the implementation date in 2013 because no specific date was given; how will the regulation be enforced and what will the fines be and; who will have the ultimate authority for implementation of the rules? None of those answers were readily available as of the conclusion of the meeting.
The last thing I want to do is give the wrong information to producers and have them be penalized by regulators from Washington who do not have real world experience. I will continue to pursue answers and have made the governor and the Congressional delegation aware of my concerns.
Have a safe spring and enjoy the beautiful weather.
Senator Tim Kapucian represents portions of Tama and iowa counties and Grundy and Benton counties in the Iowa Legislature.