NSPE Expresses Serious Concerns With the FUELS Act

Release Status: 
March 13, 2014
Contact Name: 
Stacey A. Ober
Contact Number: 
Friday, March 14, 2014

The National Society of Professional Engineers has urged Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) to reconsider his bill S. 496, the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act. The FUELS Act would substantially weaken the current EPA Spill, Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, placing the public and the farmers it seeks to protect at increased risk of devastating oil spills.

NSPE understands that some members of the agricultural community have concerns with the current SPCC rule. NSPE would like to underscore two important points, though: first, the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare must be of paramount importance; and second, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that most farms would be exempt from the rule.

However, for those farms that are not exempt, it is critically important to retain the SPCC rule. Even small quantities of oil can have profound and long-lasting impacts on our nation’s waters and wetland environments which, in turn, impact the public at large and not just the individual farmer. Professional engineers (PEs) have the unique expertise to certify SPCC plans, expertise that nonengineers simply do not have. Most critically, PEs are bound by a code of ethics to ensure that SPCC plans are implemented properly. Without the prospect of regulation, farms that are permitted to self-certify may be tempted to cut costs and allow oil storage facilities to deteriorate.

Furthermore, under the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) definition of “engineering services,” the design, construction, installation, and maintenance of oil storage facilities and the preparation, review, and certification of an oil spill prevention plan would constitute the practice of engineering under state laws. Enabling small facilities to self-certify SPCC plans would violate state engineering statutes by allowing a nonengineer to engage in the practice of engineering.

For more information or questions concerning the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act of 2013, please contact the Manager of Government Relations Arielle Eiser at aeiser@nspe.org.

Read President Green’s letter to Senator Pryor.

Additional Notes: 

The National Society of Professional Engineers is the national society of licensed professional engineers from all disciplines that promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and enhances the image and well-being of its members. Founded in 1934, NSPE serves nearly 35,000 members and the public through 53 state and territorial societies and just over 400 chapters. For more information, please visit www.nspe.org.