On September 25, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 445. The newly-signed SB 445 extended the sunset date for the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (Cleanup Fund) from January 1, 2016 to 2026. The extension also increased the UST storage fee from $0.014 per gallon to $0.02 per gallon and changed the maximum reimbursement provided by the Fund. New applicants after January 1, 2015, will have the limits of reimbursement capped at $1 million instead of the $1.5 million currently afforded by the Cleanup Fund for investigations and remediation of petroleum contaminants.
The legislature requires that owners and operators of single-walled tanks to permanently close their tanks by December 31, 2015.
SB 445’s comprehensive focus on improving implementation and administration of the Fund helps property owners receive expedited reimbursement for their claims. The Reynolds Group happens to be one of the first consultants to submit cost reimbursements electronically after having participated in the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) “beta test.” SB 445 also aims to improve the efficacy of the Fund administration as the SWRCB may now impose civil liabilities on persons who make fraudulent claims to the Fund while barring claimants and consultants convicted of defrauding the Fund.
A large and diverse group of stakeholders, ranging from the California Independent Oil Marketers Association to the California League of Conservation Voters and CORE Environmental, supported the passage of the bill. The Environmental Resource Council posits that “currently involved stake holders have worked diligently to help legislators improve the effectiveness and benefits of this important program.”
The Cleanup Fund is intended to efficiently remove gasoline from soils and groundwater in cases where California’s drinking water supplies may be threatened. It’s self-funded through the tax on gasoline and allows eligible claimants to recover costs for unauthorized releases of gasoline into the ground. In addition to performing assessment and remediation work, TRG can assist with the applications to the Cleanup Fund, pre-approval of budgets for work, and newly required electronic reimbursement requests.
The Cleanup Fund is an important funding mechanism for TRG’s Clients. They thanks those who contacted local legislators in support of extending the lifespan of the Fund and remedying the Fund’s deficiencies. The Reynolds Group can help clients navigate the maze of regulations associated with contamination of real property.