EPA to Regulate Dairy Milk Spills as per Oil Spills Update: EPA Responds

No, it’s not a headline from The Onion. It appears to be real. The Wall Street Journal editorial board provides the details:

Two weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule that subjects dairy producers to the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure program, which was created in 1970 to prevent oil discharges in navigable waters or near shorelines. Naturally, it usually applies to oil and natural gas outfits. But the EPA has discovered that milk contains “a percentage of animal fat, which is a non-petroleum oil,” as the agency put it in the Federal Register.

In other words, the EPA thinks the next blowout may happen in rural Vermont or Wisconsin. Other dangerous pollution risks that somehow haven’t made it onto the EPA docket include leaks from maple sugar taps and the vapors at Badger State breweries.

Thank God the EPA has finally stepped in and realized the critical milk spill dangers which have been plaguing this nation since its inception. Fortunately for many of our younger readers, you don’t recall how it was in the bad old days before the EPA came into its full powers. Why, in our day, my own mother used to feed us hot dogs that were boiled in water rather than being cooked on an open flame. And – prepare yourselves – she would dump the hot dog water right down the sink.

I can only imagine the number of harmless carp in the Erie Canal and Hudson River who died at this woman’s hands.

The EPA clearly has far too much time on its hands. We’re looking to cut costs. This is a hint, Washington. You don’t need to get rid of the agency entirely, but a rapid, sharply focused review of the mission and the resource requirements should clearly be in order after this. I’m sure we can trim more than a bit of fat here.

UPDATE: Mathy Stanislaus, the Assistant Administrator of the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, took exception with this article and submitted the following comments.

The February 5, 2011 blog, “EPA to Regulate Dairy Milk Spills as per Oil
Spills,” gives readers the impression that EPA intends to regulate all small dairy farms as part of its work to prevent oil spills. This is incorrect.

EPA has already proposed to exclude milk and milk product storage tanks from the spill prevention regulatory program. This common sense decision was announced months ago. Moreover, EPA already has stayed any compliance requirements for milk and milk product storage tanks pending the agency’s final action on the proposed permanent exclusion. It is known that EPA will take final action on the proposed permanent exclusion this spring.

EPA stands with the President in his commitment to using common sense and transparency to review federal regulations. This commitment to transparency is precisely why EPA publicly announced its intention to delay compliance requirements for milk and milk product storage tanks in October of 2010.

Mathy Stanislaus
Assistant Administrator
EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Washington, DC

If true, that would be some good news for a change. However, as we continue to watch this story develop, I would note two key phrases in Mr. Stanislaus’ letter. They are “proposed to exclude” and “stayed any compliance requirements … pending the agency’s final action…

Translation: the requirements under discussion are, in fact, not removed from the regulations in any final fashion. Putting a stay on something is a temporary act by definition. If those changes are finalized, then all well and good. But until that process is completed this stands as yet another example of ham handed actions by the EPA which do no credit to the agency or this country.