Bloomberg Government: House Small Business Committee Chairman Urges Withdrawal of EPA Storage Tank Rule

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Washington, August 1, 2013 | comments

By Anthony Adragna, Bloomberg Government

The chairman of the House Small Business Committee called on the Environmental Protection Agency Aug. 1 to withdraw its proposed rule on underground storage tanks, saying the agency's regulatory impact analysis has “methodological flaws.”

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) also urged the agency to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel.

While EPA estimates its proposed rule would impose annual compliance costs of $900 per site on average, industry groups have said the actual costs could be as high as $6,900 per site. Graves said the rules would impose unacceptably high costs on small gasoline retailers.

“Given the errors in EPA's cost calculations and the disparate impacts that this rule may have on small businesses that own USTS, I am requesting that EPA comply with the [Regulatory Flexibility Act] by withdrawing the proposed rule, commencing a SBAR panel,” and preparing an initial regulatory flexibility analysis, Graves wrote.

EPA was not immediately available for comment on the letter.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires EPA to convene SBAR panels for most proposed rules unless the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The panel enables small entities to offer recommendations for potentially less burdensome alternatives to agency proposals. A panel consists of officials from the rulemaking agency, the Small Business Administration's chief counsel for advocacy, and the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The Missouri Republican also said EPA's outreach to regulated parties in preparing the proposed rule was inadequate.

Eleven senators, led by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), had previously asked the EPA administrator to convene an SBAR panel on the rulemaking in a July 23 letter but stopped short of calling for the rule's withdrawal.

In a separate July 24 letter, 58 representatives, led by Reps. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.), called for EPA to withdraw the proposed rule and convene an SBAR panel over concerns the rule would impose excessive costs on small businesses.

In November 2011, EPA issued a proposed rule that would govern petroleum and chemical underground storage tanks regulated under Subtitle I of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (40 C.F.R. Part 280). Underground storage tanks regulated under Subtitle C of RCRA would not be covered by the regulation.

EPA's proposed rule would expand tank owner and operating training requirements, require owners and operators to periodically test tank components, and mandate backup containment systems for certain tanks.

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