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EPA Addresses IDFA Concerns on Oil Spill Regulations

Oct 15, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency last week announced final extension plans for its oil spill regulations, giving milk and milk product containers an indefinite extension from the rule and bringing IDFA members closer to a desired exemption for those containers. In response to IDFA's continued requests for clarification, EPA specifically stated that the extension will apply equally to milk product containers, associated piping and appurtenances, as well as milk containers, which received an extension earlier this year.

The term "milk products" includes cheese, cream, yogurt and ice cream mix, as well as other dairy-related products.

"IDFA is pleased that EPA is taking action on our long-standing concern about the unnecessary inclusion of milk and milk product containers in the SPCC rule, and that it clarified that the extension applies to milk product containers as well as milk containers," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs. "We continue to urge that these containers be permanently excluded from the final regulation because milk and milk products are not oil, and they do not present a risk of creating an oil spill to waters of the United States."

While most facilities subject to the rule received a one-year extension to the compliance date for EPA's Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Rule (SPCC) to November 10, 2011, the application of the rule to all milk and milk product containers will be extended until one year after a final rule is issued. EPA originally had proposed an exemption for dairy in January 2009.

$155 Million in Compliance Costs

While nothing is certain, the final rule could exempt milk and milk product containers or just be limited to milk containers. This extension signals that EPA is open to a broader exemption for dairy.

"EPA estimates that the exemption could save the dairy industry $155 million in avoided compliance costs, which means that if we do not get full relief from future inclusion it will cost the dairy industry $155 million," Detlefsen said.

IDFA has worked with the EPA on oil-related environmental issues since Congress enacted the Edible Oil Regulatory Reform Act in 1995, which required federal agencies to distinguish how government regulations apply to non- petroleum classes of oil. Due to long standing concerns about ambiguities in the rule, IDFA has been asking for an interpretation that milk is not oil, or in the alternative, a dairy exemption since 2005.

In 2009 EPA proposed to amend the SPCC requirements to codify that milk silos, tanks and other equipment are exempt, EPA also specifically asked whether they should extend the proposed exemption to other dairy product containers. This year when EPA proposed an extension to the rule's deadlines, the agency omitted any reference to milk products, which limited the extension to milk containers only.

The purpose of the SPCC regulations, which have been in place since December 11, 1973, is to establish requirements for facilities to prevent a discharge of oil into navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.

Read the news release here.

For more information, contact Detlefsen at


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