HARTFORD, CT - Gasoline stations in Connecticut might get stiffed by the state on funds owed for environmental spill clean-up, the Hartford Business Journal reports. The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection has proposed closing the Underground Storage Tank Fund because of its $98.6 million deficit.
The plan would give gasoline stations only a small portion of the monies due them for cleaning up leaks from underground petroleum tanks. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said it might refuse to recognize the fund€™s viability because of its huge deficit.
With that fund defunct, retailers would have to increase insurance coverage in order to add spills cleanup. That higher cost would force a third to a half of the state€™s gasoline stations to close, the Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association (ICPA) reported.
"It is unacceptable," said Gene Guilford, president of ICPA. "The state has an obligation, as uncomfortable as that is. That obligation needs to be paid."
When the UST fund was founded in the early 1990s, the gross receipts tax on vehicle fuel channeled monies into it. But the state government started repurposing that tax money, which has depleted the fund. The bill before the Connecticut Senate would phase out the UST fund within two years, and give approved claimants only a fraction of what is due.
Nationally, Congress is considering moving $3 billion from LUST to the Highway Transportation Fund. NACS is urging the Senate to keep LUST intact.