On December 18th, the Michigan House of Representatives unanimously passed Senate Bill 791 addressing the funding of cleanups for leaking underground storage tanks. Now the Governor needs to sign the legislation to put it into effect. We expect this to happen before year’s end.
This accomplishment is the result of multi-year efforts by MIRA, along with MPA and API working together to benefit the fuel retailer. The new bill will save fuel retailers money previously spent on UST insurance to comply with Federal UST Financial requirements. This new legislation will help cleanup sites that have been dormant, and will develop land that has been “mothballed” because buyer and seller couldn’t agree on a cleanup approach. The bill creates the Michigan Underground Storage Tank Authority and the Michigan Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund. The Authority will administer the fund.
This means owners / operators of underground storage tanks will be required to continue operating their USTs within the requirements of the Michigan UST Class “A” & “B” rules. Automatic tank gauging rules, employee training, and spill and release prevention measures, etc. will still be necessary.
The most notable change will be the fact that this new Authority will allow compliance with the Federal Financial Responsibility requirements, without having to purchase insurance for environmental damage caused by leaking USTs. Claims will then be made to the UST Authority. This is a huge victory for fuel retailers who have found UST insurance coverage unavailable and unaffordable. The 7/8ths of cent fee on all refined petroleum products will still be collected to fund the Authority and pay claims. Deductibles will be required and responsible operation of USTs will still be required to qualify for reimbursement from the fund.
It is vital that UST insurance be paid for and kept effective until this new UST Authority is operational. Do not cancel your insurance or fail to renew until you are absolutely certain that you are qualified and enrolled in the Authority’s data-base. Additional information will be forthcoming as the rules and regulations are rolled out.