Environmental/Jan 31, 2015

DEQ Releases First Information About Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund

On January 28, 2015, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) finally released a brief statement regarding its plan for implementation of Public Act 416, a refined petroleum underground storage tank corrective action funding statute which became immediately effective upon being signed by Governor Snyder on December 30, 2014.

The DEQ’s entire press release can be accessed at: http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIDEQ/bulletins/ecf3c1, and we are providing a copy of the text below:

“Message to Owners and Operators of Leaking Underground Storage Tanks

Releases of refined petroleum products from underground storage tank systems (USTs) are a significant cause of contamination of the natural resources, water resources, and groundwater. Public Act 416, which amends Michigan’s Underground Storage Tank Corrective Action Funding statute (Part 215 of NREPA), was signed by Governor Snyder on Dec. 30, 2014 and creates the Underground Storage Tank Authority. Under the amendments, the Authority will administer a cost reimbursement program for owners and operators of refined petroleum USTs to assist in paying for corrective actions necessary to address releases from those systems.

  • The DEQ is diligently working with stakeholders to assist the Governor’s Office in setting up the Authority;
  • Once established, the Authority will establish the process for submitting claims and specify a date when it will begin receiving them.
  • An owner or operator may seek reimbursement for eligible expenses that are associated with a release discovered and reported on or after the effective date of the amendments.
  • On behalf of the Authority, the DEQ has requested the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA’s) acceptance of Michigan’s Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund program as meeting the Financial Responsibility requirements under Part 211 (Underground Storage Tanks) of the NREPA and federal UST rules.
  • Owners and operators will be informed of USEPA’s decision concerning Financial Responsibility. In the meantime, owners and operators should maintain their current form of Financial Responsibility until such time as the USEPA determines the amendments to Part 215 are acceptable as Financial Responsibility for USTs and the owner and operator has received a determination of eligibility from the Authority.”

While this press release answers some questions, there are many others unanswered. In this interim period before the Authority is established, many refined UST owners or operators find themselves in limbo. There is not yet a procedure in place for accepting and processing claims, even though releases discovered and reported after December 30, 2014 would appear to be eligible for reimbursement. It is also unclear what the deductible is for owners of fewer than 8 refined petroleum USTs if they have a reportable release after December 30, 2014 but before the Authority begins issuing UST owners a “determination of eligibility”. PA 461 states that owners of less than 8 USTs can opt to pay $500 per tank (per year) and reduce the deductible from $50,000 to $15,000, however there is not yet a mechanism in place for UST owners to pay the fee. Can it be paid retroactively? We will keep you apprised of the implementation of this important program as more information becomes available.

For a link to our earlier blog on PA 461 (formerly called Senate Bill or SB 791), click here:

https://ggtmlaw.com/michigan-legislature-passes-bill-revive-refined-petroleum-ust-cleanupinsurance-program/

 

 

 

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