Updated at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 14, 2011
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter on Nov. 7 called for deregulation, saying it’s “impossible” to keep up with rules on the city, state and federal levels.
He cited an EPA edict: “Literally, if you spilled milk on your factory floor, it’s considered an oil spill, and you could be fined—and people were fined, hundreds of companies—$5,000 a day for spilled milk.” (See video.)
Hunter, speaking at a small-business seminar at the La Mesa Community Center, said President Barack Obama had the EPA “roll back” the rule.
“When you have rules like that, it's impossible to succeed,” he said regarding federal overregulation of small business.
But Hunter’s office in Washington and a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency have been unable to document anyone paying a fine for spilled milk.
And Monday morning, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based International Dairy Foods Association—which lobbies Capitol Hill on behalf of dairies—said: “We do not have any information on dairy companies that may have been fined for milk spills by the EPA.”
Peggy Armstrong, the IDFA vice president for communications, further said that earlier this year, the EPA issued a final rule that exempts milk containers, at both the farm and processing facilities, from that rule.”
Meanwhile, Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper couldn’t list current legislation that would eliminate all taxes for small businesses—as asserted by the Republican congressman Nov. 7.
After the expo that Monday morning, where the Alpine resident spoke to 250 people, Hunter told La Mesa Patch that “there is legislation out there, and I’m on it” to let small firms that manufacture in the United States be spared federal taxes.
In fact, Hunter’s father introduced a bill in 2007—HR 3900—that essentially would have eliminated federal taxes for certain small businesses. That bill died in the House Ways and Means Committee.
The younger Hunter, who represents the 52nd Congressional District in East County and inland North County, hasn’t re-introduced it in the current 112th Congress.
On Thursday, in response to Patch queries, Kasper provided only links to three online articles (below right) asserting EPA rules that made milk spills subject to the same fines as oil spills.
“The congressman’s point underscores that regulation—supported by this [Obama] administration—is hurting the economy,” Kasper said via email. “EPA had the [regulation] in the pipeline, which the links state.”
From Washington, EPA spokeswoman Stacy Kika said: “We are having some difficulty finding the information you are looking for. Do you have any more specifics? … Do you have any information on the rule that the representative is referring to? Do you have any information on the specific company?”
The Wall Street Journal, in a Jan. 27 editorial, contended that the EPA “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.”
But according to the Federal Register, the EPA on April 18, 2011, amended the spill rules “to exempt milk containers and associated piping and appurtenances from the SPCC requirements” provided sanitary standards are met.
The rule change was proposed Jan. 15, 2009—five days before Obama was inaugurated. The EPA said dairy farms would save $146 million a year.
In effect, the EPA in the final days of the Bush administration sought to eliminate the possibility of dairy farms being fined for spills.
In October 2007, Rep. Duncan L. Hunter, father of the current 52nd District congressman, and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Georgia co-sponsored House Resolution 3900, the Restore U.S. Manufacturing Act of 2007 (attached), which would give small businesses a 100 percent tax deduction for being involved in “qualified manufacturing activities.”
It never made it to a committee vote.
According to opencongress.org, the younger Hunter has sponsored 15 bills and co-sponsored 149 since taking office in January 2009. His current efforts include HR 374 (the Life at Conception Act) and HR 290 (the War Memorial Protection Act), but no bill regarding small-business taxes.
Although Hunter is a co-sponsor of HR 144 (the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011) and HR 25, which seeks to abolish the IRS and enact a national sales tax, his name isn’t associated with an effort to eliminate small-business taxes specifically.
For his part, Hunter spokesman Kasper told Patch: “Rep. Hunter’s position (still) is that federal taxes should be zeroed for approved domestic manufacturing activities—large or small. Not an unusual position—even one of the GOP candidates is proposing something similar, I believe.”