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SB 445 Signed Into Law

On September 25, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 445 (SB 445) into law. The new law effectively extends the state's Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (USTCF), or "Fund," for an additional 10 years or until January 1, 2026. The extension of the USTCF will ensure that the state will meet all of its currently outstanding obligations while augmenting the program to include a bond study and "Expedited Cleanup Pilot Project."

Key elements to SB 445 include:

  • Increasing the fee assessed on petroleum stored in underground storage tanks from $0.014 per gallon to $0.02 per gallon;
  • Requests single walled underground storage tanks to be removed;
  • Cap limits of $1 million for new claims submitted after December 31, 2014;

A portion of the $0.006 per gallon increase in petroleum stored in underground storage tanks will be available to RUST loans and grants to small business to comply with underground storage tank regulatory requirements and provide funding through the new Site Cleanup Subaccount (SCSA) which will provide monies to help assess and potentially cleanup sites regardless of the contaminant source.

The new law expands eligibility for Orphan Site Cleanup Fund (OSCF) sites that were previously denied eligibility. However, despite expanded eligibility for OSCF sites, the cap on available funds will be reduced to $1 million per occurrence. The cap on funds applies to Emergency, Abandoned, and Recalcitrant (EAR) account sites and Commingled Plume Account sites as well.

As of October 1, 2014, the USTCF is processing reimbursement requests via the State Water Resources Control Boards GeoTracker website in efforts to expedite claim reimbursements reduce paper usage. As part of the new law, Regulatory Technical Assistance (RTA) will be increased from $3,000 to $5,000 per claim, however costs incurred after September 25, 2014, for electronic uploads associated with processing reimbursement requests will not be subject to the $5,000 RTA cap.

In addition, SB 445 gives the State Water Resources Control Board authority to address fraud within the Fund.