On October 8, 2011, Governor Brown signed a bill that will support more UST cleanups across California. AB291 adds $90M to the UST Cleanup Fund (Fund) in both 2012 and 2013. AB291 is the only bill in 2011 to have met the required 2/3rds vote of the California Legislature for bills that collect fees. In a rare display of bipartisan effort, this bill and related legislation (AB358) were supported by both Democrats and Republicans.
In this time of recession and political angst, the story of AB291 is a lesson in how “good government” legislation can help fix environmental problems in California. The California legislature enacted the Barry Keene UST Act in 1989. This Act, funded by a fee on gasoline sales, provides $1 million of financial assurance for operators of fuel USTs, and up to $1.5 million for investigation and cleanup of releases of petroleum fuels. Responsible parties/claimants hire environmental consultants to do cleanups and make reimbursement requests to the Fund for cleanup costs. From 1989 to 2009, the Fund paid out over $1 billion for cleanups.
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