BISMARCK, N.D. - Anhydrous Ammonia plays a big part in any farming operation, and recently proposed regulations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could have made it harder to come by. That was until a court struck the rules down.
Darrell Scheresky has worked at Enerbase as an agronomy manager for about 15 years and he says this is some of the best news he's heard in a while.
"It'll help both farmers and retailers a like. It's a cost saving measure for us. This is a little undo requirement in our estimations," said Scheresky.
Implementing the new rules was estimated at $30,000 for initial compliance, $12,000 for annual compliance and $18,000 every three years for an audit. Given these costs, as many as one-third of North Dakota's anhydrous ammonia facilities could have been forced to close, and Sen. John Hoeven, R, N.D., says that would have made roads less safe.
"If you shut down those retail outlets, farmers have to drive further to get their fertilizer, which not only means higher costs, but it also means they're going to be towing those tanks on the highways a lot further," said Hoeven, R-N.D.
The proposed OSHA regulations would have put anhydrous ammonia retailers at exactly the same safety standards as anhydrous ammonia producers. Scheresky says that they already have high safety standards in place and a change to them is unnecessary.
"Those are mandated through EPA and enforced through the North Dakota ag department. So, we still have a lot of safety concerns to deal with and we actively do that but this was really more beaucratic than safety focused in our opinion," said Scheresky.
The rule was struck down because the court says OSHA failed to go through formal rule making procedures before it implemented the policy change.
Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring was also pleased with the ruling, saying in a statement: "OSHA must incorporate stakeholder feedback and develop best management practices before making a decision to change this longstanding policy."