Waters of the US Proposed EPA Rule – Status Update
March 24, 2015
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule on Waters of the U.S. further defines “jurisdictional waters” under the Clean Water Act. As drafted, the proposed regulation could greatly expand the EPA’s jurisdiction of over ditches, ephemeral streams, and other water bodies – even water bodies that are dry most of the time. By expanding EPA’s jurisdiction over these additional waters, the proposed rule would cause additional farming activities to require permits and regulatory oversight by the EPA.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has stated that the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule will be sent to the Office of Management and Budget this spring for final approval. The Administration intends to then issue the final regulation without further allowing time for further public comment, even though the EPA has received over one million public comments on the proposed rule. It is concerning that the EPA intends to allow the final rule to become effective without additional time to review the latest changes.
Since being issued last year, this regulatory proposal has faced opposition from agriculture, business, and state and local government due to the lack of clarity provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA. Additionally, many agricultural groups - including the Kansas Grain and Feed Association, Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association, and the Kansas Association of Ethanol Processors – have called on EPA to withdraw the proposal and start over.
Bayer CropScience Gives $100,000 to Sponsor Project Apis m.’s Honey Bee Forage Program
March 3, 2015
Every year, more than 1.7 million honey bee colonies are brought to California’s Central Valley to pollinate the vast expanses of almond orchards.
Many bees arrive in the fall when little is in bloom to escape their native cold temperatures in anticipation of the world’s largest pollination event. Prior to and after the almond orchard’s bloom in late winter and spring, there is a shortage of food to help the bees survive. Bees’ food consists of nectar and pollen gathered from blooming plants.
To help address the pre- and post-bloom food challenge, Bayer CropScience is giving $100,000 to Project Apis m., a nonprofit organization dedicated to better bee health through its work with growers.
Project Apis m. will use the funds to provide seed mixes to growers in California and Washington who have agreed to plant cover crops for honey bees before and after almond bloom and other key seasons. The project will help build a healthier bee population to support crop pollination nationwide as bee colonies are transported to other states for other growing seasons. Read more.
SARA Tier II Annual Reports – March 1st DeadlineFebruary 9, 2015
As a reminder, under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, annual SARA Tier II Reports must be filed by March 1, 2015. While most ag chemical retailers are familiar with these this requirement, members should be aware that the penalties for non-compliance have become quite severe.
Remember to follow Kansas’ filing instructions. Kansas’ point-of-contact at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is Ms. Marla Oestreich, SARA Tier II Administrator. Ms. Oestrich can be reached at 785.296.1688, or via email at email@example.com. Members can file Tier II reports either electronically by going HERE, or by filing a hard copy of their report with KDHE. The paper filing forms can be found HERE.
EPA Withdraws Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule
PoliticoFebruary 9, 2015
EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have withdrawn the interpretive rule which listed agricultural conservation practices that would be exempted from the proposed Waters of the United States rule.
A memorandum of understanding signed by officials from both agencies, on Jan. 29, withdraws the rule effective immediately, citing requirements by Congress in the 2016 appropriations bill. However, the agencies had, prior to the legislation, indicated that they expected to withdraw the interpretive rule when they finalize the WOTUS rule later this year
The interpretive rule, released as a final rule on March 24 along with the proposed waters rule, detailed 56 conservation practices that, if done in line with USDA standards, would be exempt from Clean Water Act permitting requirements.
The memo does not affect the proposed WOTUS rule that seeks to clarify the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. EPA still says they expect to finalize that rule sometime this spring.
EPA Announces New Storage and Handling Requirements for Anhydrous Ammonia
December 18, 2014
A new industry standard has been finalized for all facilities that store or handle anhydrous ammonia. The new Compressed Gas Association Standard G-2.1-2014 standard replaces the previous standard - ANSI K61.1. Under EPA regulations, each facility that stores or handles anhydrous ammonia has a general duty to work toward compliance with the most current industry standard. This new standard applies to ag producers as well as retail fertilizer dealers. The requirements of the standard are the basis for the general duty clause under the Clean Air Act, as well as the Hazard Review/Process Hazard Analysis under the Risk Management Program, development of safety information/process safety information, maintenance integrity documents, and compliance audits.
Risk Management Program (RMP) facilities should compare their existing practices to the requirements and specifications of this new standard, and then update existing compliance documents to meet the new standard. The latest revision of myRMP developed by The Asmark Institute includes the new standard. You can find this compliance aid at: https://www.asmark.org/myRMP.
Questions can be directed to George Hess, EPA Environmental Scientist, at 913-551-7540 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ResponsibleAg Certification Program
December 18, 2014
The ResponsibleAg Certification Program began on Monday December 8, 2014. Registration is voluntary and is open to any business that stores or handles fertilizer products.
The focus of the program for the first three years will be on companies that store and handle ammonium nitrate and/or anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. By participating in this voluntary industry initiative, you will be joining thousands of other agricultural retailers across the U.S. in demonstrating a proactive commitment to providing a safe, secure and compliant workplace for your employees, customers and neighbors. We encourage you to register your facilities and support the program. The following information will help you in understanding more about the mission of ResponsibleAg:
ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Schedule Announced
December 18, 2014
Registration is now open for all upcoming sessions of ResponsibleAg auditor training through the end of 2015. The next course will be held February 10-13, 2015. The course will be offered about once a month through the end of the year. Minimum applicant prerequisites have been established to ensure the experience, knowledge base and objectives of auditor candidates are as uniform as possible. Please click here to register or obtain more detailed information on the ResponsibleAg program.
For more information, contact Ewa Oller (x 224) at the Asmark Institute or the ResponsibleAg Helpdesk at 270-683-6777, or e-mail email@example.com.
OSHA Expands Reporting Requirements for Fatalities and Severe Injuries
October 7, 2014
Effective January 1, 2015, new OSHA rules will require all employers under OSHA jurisdiction to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within 8 hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA's regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule. Find out more information on the new fatality and accident reporting requirements at OSHA’s website.
Employers can submit accident reports by telephone to the nearest OSHA Area Office during normal business hours, or to OSHA’s 24-hour hotline 1-800-321-OSHA . Soon, employers will also be able to file the required accident reports to OSHA electronically through a new tool being developed on the OSHA website.
House Approves "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act"
The Fertilizer Institute
October 7, 2014
On Tuesday, September 9, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 5078, the "Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act" by a vote of 262-152. 35 Democrats joined 227 Republicans in support of the legislation. Click here to view the Roll Call.
H.R. 5078 would (1) prohibit enactment of the U.S. EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed rule defining Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), (2) repeal the interpretive rule that defines agricultural practices that are exempt from Section 404 permits under the Clean Water Act, and (3) require federal agencies to consult with state and local officials to identify which waters should be federally regulated and which should be left to the states.
On Monday, September 8, 2014, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (Veto Threat) strongly opposing H.R. 5078 saying that the U.S. EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "rulemaking, grounded in science, is essential to ensure clean water for future generations and reduce regulatory uncertainty, and is responsive to calls for rulemaking from Congress, industry, and community stakeholders as well as decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court." With Democrats in control of the Senate, however, this legislation is unlikely to receive floor consideration in this Congress.
Workers Compensation Costs Decrease Due to HB 2134
September 9, 2014
In 2011, KARA was part of a business coalition that helped develop, lobby for, and successfully send to the Governor’s desk HB 2134, a law that dramatically reformed Kansas workers compensation statutes. The attached document from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) shows that Kansas workers compensation costs have seen an overall 10% decrease. The Kansas Insurance Department will take this data and should adjust rates accordingly for 2015. KARA is proud to have been instrumental in the passage of this legislation that will result in a decrease in members' cost of doing business.
Company Cited by OSHA in Bleed-off Tank Incident
Asmark InstituteSeptember 9, 2014
Following the death of a truck driver at a facility in Nebraska, OSHA has cited the company for 12 serious safety violations. The driver, who was not provided a respirator or personal protective clothing, was overcome by anhydrous ammonia vapors while transferring the liquid from a semitruck to bulk storage tanks. The worker later died at the hospital from complications related to the ammonia inhalation. Three other workers were injured.
On March 20th, a 250-gallon water-bleeder tank ruptured, releasing anhydrous ammonia into the atmosphere and exposing the driver to an ammonia vapor cloud. A second employee walked into the cloud and was treated and released from a local medical facility. An employee of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, who was performing maintenance on the adjacent railroad tracks, and a deputy sheriff responding to the scene, were also exposed, requiring medical evaluation.
OSHA cited the company with 12 serious violations. Several violations involved OSHA's Storage and Handling of Anhydrous Ammonia Standards, such as failing to provide an ammonia control system; provide employees with chemically impervious clothing; inspect and maintain ammonia equipment and piping to prevent potential leaks and system failure; and develop and train workers in an emergency response plan. The company was cited for storing the chemical in tanks located within 100 feet of a mainline railroad track. Other violations involved respiratory protection standards, such as failing to ensure self-contained breathing apparatus and atmospheric monitoring equipment were provided and used for response to an emergency, as well as for failing to medically evaluate and fit test workers required to use respirators.
OSHA has proposed penalties of $62,101. Before this inspection, the company was previously cited by OSHA twice in 2011, resulting in the issuance of eight citations. The company has contested the citations and requested a hearing before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
EPA Seeking Comments on RMP, PSM, Adding Regulated Products
Asmark InstituteSeptember 9, 2014
In response to Executive Order 13650, EPA is requesting comments on potential revisions to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations and related programs. In this Request for Information (RFI), EPA is asking for information and data on specific regulatory elements and process safety management approaches, the public and environmental health and safety risks they address and the costs and burdens they may entail. EPA will use the information received in response to this RFI to inform what action, if any, it may take. EPA is asking for comments related to the following subjects:
- Update the List of Regulated Substances
- Adding Other Toxic or Flammable Substances
- Adding High and/or Low Explosives
- Adding Ammonium Nitrate
- Adding Reactive Substances and Reactivity Hazards
- Adding Other Categories of Substances
- Removing Certain Substances From the List or Raising Their Threshold Quantity
- Lowering the Threshold Quantity for Substances Currently on the List
- Additional Risk Management Program Elements
- Define and Require Evaluation of Updates to Applicable Recognized and Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practices
- Extend Mechanical Integrity Requirements To Cover Any Safety-Critical Equipment
- Require Owners and Operators To Manage Organizational Changes
- Require Third-Party Compliance Audits
- Effects of OSHA Process Safety Management (PSM) Coverage on RMP Applicability
- Safer Technology and Alternatives Analysis
- Emergency Drills To Test a Source's Emergency Response Program or Plan
- Automated Detection and Monitoring for Releases of Regulated Substances
- Additional Stationary Source Location Requirements
- Compliance With Emergency Response Program Requirements in Coordination With Local Responders
- Incident Investigation and Accident History Requirements
- Worst Case Release Scenario Quantity Requirements for Processes Involving Numerous Small Vessels Stored Together
- Public Disclosure of Information To Promote Regulatory Compliance and Improve Community Understanding of Chemical Risks
- Threshold Quantities and Off-Site Consequence Analysis Endpoints for Regulated Substances Based on Acute Exposure Guideline Level Toxicity Values
- Program 3 NAICS Codes Based on RMP Accident History Data
- The “Safety Case” Regulatory Model
- Streamlining RMP Requirements
Note: We recommend you review this RFI closely and consider providing comments. Comments must be received on or before October 29, 2014. Submit comments identified by docket EPA-HQ-OEM-2014-0328 online at http://www.regulations.gov, or by mail to OSWER Docket, EPA Docket Center, Mail Code 2822-1T, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OEM-2014-0328. Please include two copies of your comments. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.
KARA Participate in ResponsibleAg Workshop
September 9, 2014
On August 7th, the Asmark Institute welcomed State Association Executives from around the country to participate in a one-day ResponsibleAg workshop in Owensboro, Kentucky. The workshop was very successful in providing the state associations with an overview of the program’s registration and audit process, website features, audit content and preview of the auditor course agenda. Participants also had a chance to tour the facility that will serve as the new training center for ResponsibleAg auditors.
There will be a third meeting for State Association Executives held in Owensboro, Kentucky on September 16th. The State Associations are important to the success of ResponsibleAg, by providing a valuable resource to their members who will be asked to be a part of this important initiative.
Ohio Bill to Require Certification to Apply Fertilizer
May 12, 2014
The Ohio House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 150 (SB 150), a bill that will now require one farmer per farm operation to be certified to apply fertilizer. “The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) and the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) have always taken the quality of Ohio’s water very seriously,” said Brent Hostetler, OCWGA president and Madison County farmer. “Both organizations have worked together through the entire process of this bill to assure that it addresses environmental needs, but does not include overly burdensome requirements for Ohio family farmers.”
“Moving forward, both organizations will continue to emphasize to legislators and agency officials the importance of practical, science-based solutions,” said Hostetler. Jerry Bambauer, OSA president and Auglaize County farmer, emphasized the need to fully understand this challenge before solutions can be implemented. “No one has a clear understanding of how exactly phosphorus is moving through the soil profile, or can explain why there are algae blooms in areas that don’t have agricultural activity near them,” Bambauer said.
For this reason, the Ohio Soybean Council, the Ohio Corn Marketing Program, the Ohio Small Grains Marketing Program and many others, are supporting a $2 million research project with more than $1 million coming from Ohio farmers and other agricultural companies, that will measure edge-of-field phosphorus runoff and will show how phosphorus is used in agriculture, how it leaves farm fields and how much of it is actually entering Ohio’s waterways.
Demanding a Warrant for an OSHA Inspection: Issues to consider
OSHA Training Blog
May 12, 2014
Would you consent to a search of your entire household by a police officer who got a complaint about your barking dog but decided he wanted to poke his nose in all your closets and drawers to determine if you were breaking any other laws? I bet most of you would not consent to the search because you are aware of your constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause. Well, that same protection applies to the workplace too.
Many people do not realize that a company has the right to tell OSHA to get a warrant before being allowed to conduct an inspection on their site. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Marshall v. Barlow's, Inc. in 1978 that OSHA may not conduct warrantless inspections without an employer's consent. OSHA may, however, inspect the site after acquiring a judicially authorized search warrant based upon administrative probable cause (like the random selection of a company covered under one of the national emphasis programs) or upon evidence of a violation (such as a valid employee complaint).
So why would a company tell OSHA they must get a warrant to inspect? Sometimes it can take several days, even weeks, for an inspector to obtain a warrant. I am also aware of a rare case or two where OSHA left after being told to go get a warrant and they never came back to inspect. However, if that is your strategy for managing safety and health for your company’s employees, you probably ought to get into a different field. Also I once saw some statistics OSHA produced that showed companies who demanded a warrant and were subsequently inspected under the warrant received more citations and stiffer monetary penalties, on average, than companies who consented to the inspection without asking for a warrant. While correlation does not imply causation, that is one fact that should be kept in mind before sending OSHA away. Read more.
March 3, 2014
On February 18, 2014 ARA and TFI announced plans to create ResponsibleAg, an independent, not-for-profit organization designed to support fertilizer retailers’ compliance with federal safety and security regulations. Under ResponsibleAg, retail fertilizer dealerships will have access to comprehensive inspections based on federal regulatory requirements. The inspections will be carried out by trained auditors who will have successfully completed an intensive training course based on the objectives of ResponsibleAg.
“While the vast majority of fertilizer retail businesses operate safely, securely and in compliance with federal regulations, we are acting out of an abundance of caution and concern for the well-being of workers and communities,” said TFI President Chris Jahn. “ResponsibleAg will verify compliance at more facilities and with greater speed than is currently being done by the multitude of federal agencies that regulate the nation’s fertilizer retailers, so we are choosing to act now rather than waiting for the next government inspection.”
“ResponsibleAg will help ensure existing regulations are conveyed and easily understood by fertilizer retailers,” said
ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock. “Retailers want to do the right thing, but overlapping, duplicative or potentially conflicting requirements make compliance a challenge. This program will help retailers by collecting the regulatory requirements into one standard, and offering them tools and information to ensure their facilities conform to all current federal regulations.”
ResponsibleAg will credential auditors who will inspect and verify individual facilities’ level of compliance with applicable federal regulations. Facilities that successfully complete assessments will be recognized for having done so. Any site that does not successfully complete an assessment will be provided a list of recommended corrective actions. Additionally, random quality assurance reviews to verify the assessments will be conducted by third party auditors.
TFI and ARA are each contributing $100,000 in startup capital for the organization, and the Asmark Institute is providing an ongoing contribution that provides for training programs, training facilities and administration of the ResponsibleAg website and database. Once established, ResponsibleAg will be funded by registration fees paid by participating fertilizer storage and handling inventory points and their suppliers. Auditor training costs will be funded by tuition paid by those seeking the ResponsibleAg auditor credential. Membership in TFI, ARA or any other organization is not a requirement for participation.
“ARA and TFI are committed to ResponsibleAg as a common sense approach to mitigating the potential of another accident like the one in West,” Coppock said. “Compliance needs to be the focus rather than a push for broad new regulations. The effort and resources retailers dedicate to compliance should be directed towards achieving the greatest level of safety and security possible for employees, first responders and the communities in which our members live and work.”
Safety & security guidelines for storage and transportation of ammonium nitrate at retail facilities
The Fertilizer Institute
March 3, 2014
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) recently developed a guidance document on safety and security guidelines for the storage and transportation of ammonium nitrate at retail facilities. This guidance document, drafted with much industry input, is a great resource for all members who handle fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate. The guidance document is available in pdf format to all KARA members upon request.
Secretary Vilsack addresses Commodity Classic on farm bill
February 28, 2014
Below is a transcript of U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s remarks as delivered to the Commodity Classic regarding the farm bill:
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. It's great to be back at Commodity Classic. And I want to start off this morning with a couple of thank yous to every single person in this audience and to producers around the country.
You know, we unfortunately in this country do not thank you all enough or as frequently as we should. We are a food secure nation because of your hard work. Our families don't have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. You produce it. We don't have to worry about whether we have to rely on someone else for our food. Virtually everything we need to feed our families is grown and raised in this great country.
You provide us economic security because we spend so little of our paychecks and wages for food because of the efficiencies of your operations. Virtually nowhere else in the world can you get out of a grocery store and still have money in your pockets from your paycheck the way you can in the United States. Read more.
OSHA addresses fertilizer safety in letter
February 12, 2014
Please click here to read a letter from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding safe manufacturing, storage, distribution and use of ammonium nitrate.
As requested by OSHA, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) is distributing this information so our members are informed about the resources OSHA has made available and more fully understand how the agency is addressing ammonium nitrate safety following the West Fertilizer accident.
If you have any questions, please contact Michael Kennedy by telephone at (202) 595-1706 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senate passes 2014 Farm Bill
February 6, 2014
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed a new comprehensive farm bill that reauthorizes agriculture subsidies, rural conservation, federal nutrition assistance and energy related provisions over the next five years. The farm bill passed with a final vote of (68-32) and with the bill now passed the House & Senate, the president is expected to sign the legislation into law as soon as it lands on his desk.
Click here for a link to the 2014 Farm Bill that includes a 1-page summary document.
Seeking comments on new safety standard for NH3 application equipment
January 3, 2014
The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) are working with the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers to develop a new safety standard for anhydrous ammonia agricultural application equipment. The working group is reaching out to stakeholders for input on the standard. Your input is being requested on any items you feel are incorrect or missing from the draft document. The working group will review your comments and provide feedback.
Click here to the following link to download the draft safety standard, the ASABE comment template, and general instructions on filing your comments. For questions on this new safety standard initiative, contact Travis Tsunemori with ASABE at (269)-932-7009.
Please ensure your comments are submitted before February 28, 2014.