THE Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing last Thursday on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
McCarthy is currently the assistant administrator at EPA.
McCarthy noted that she recognizes the current deteriorating relationship between farmers/ranchers and EPA and said she wants to change that.
"The agency has bridges to build with the agriculture community," McCarthy said at the nomination hearing.
EPA has come under fire from the agricultural community after releasing confidential information about animal feeding operations. EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe has called for a retraction of the information, which was released to environmental groups (Feedstuffs, March 18). McCarthy said she is committed to continuing the path forward on that situation.
"I understand there is a great concern that the information went out, and I will do everything I can to make sure that isn't repeated," McCarthy said.
Sen. Deb Fischer (R., Neb.) also asked about EPA's Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure rule. The continuing resolution effectively postponed, until Sept. 30, a regulation that would have required on-farm tanks and drums with oil storage capacity to have spill prevention dikes in place.
If implemented, the rule would have required that oil storage facilities with a capacity of more than 1,320 gal. make structural improvements to reduce the possibility of oil spills. It also would have required farmers to construct a containment facility, like a dike or a basin, that must retain 110% of the fuel in the container.
The agricultural industry is supporting legislation that would raise the minimum capacity to 10,000 gal. while the aggregate level on a facility would move to 42,000 gal.
McCarthy told Fischer she would be "more than happy to take a look at" that legislation. When asked if she was aware of any oil spills at the farm level, McCarthy said she was not aware of any.