Diversion of Storage Tank Cleanup Funds
Key Development: The Senate-passed transportation bill would divert
$669 million from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund over the next
10 years to help fund transportation projects.
What's Next: House and Senate conferees will consider the provision as
part of their ongoing negotiations on the surface transportation reauthorization
By Anthony Adragna
Proposed language in the Senate-passed transportation bill would result in
$669 million being diverted from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST)
Trust Fund over the next 10 years to help fund transportation projects,
according to a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation.
The May 25 report
examined the financial impacts from the House and Senate versions of the
transportation bill, which a conference committee is trying to combine into a
The Senate bill would take one-third of the future revenue from the storage
tank fund, which is financed by a 0.1-cent tax on each gallon of gasoline sold
in the United States, and direct that money to the Highway Trust Fund. The joint
committee estimated that would divert $669 million from the LUST fund over a
That is in addition to a proposed $3 billion transfer from the LUST fund,
which would occur immediately upon the bill's adoption and nearly deplete the
current fund. The House version of the bill does not contain any language
relating to the LUST fund.
According to the report, the Senate bill would divert $16 million from the
LUST fund in 2012 and $337 million in total between 2012 and 2017.
Created in 1986 and currently estimated to contain $3.6 billion, the LUST
fund allows the Environmental Protection Agency to oversee and enforce storage
tank cleanups, conduct inspection of sites, and pay for site cleanups when the
owner is unavailable or unknown.
Sherri Stone, vice president of the Petroleum Marketers Association of
America, told BNA May 29 the group is vehemently opposed to what it considers
“robbing the trust fund.”
Stone said the group had reached out to members of Congress and found that
many did not fully understand the provisions. The group has several supporters
of its efforts “lined up” to block the diversion, but Stone said she had not
heard of any official discussions between conferees about the LUST fund
PMAA has lobbied Congress to release additional funds from the trust fund for
years. If releasing additional funds “is not going to happen, you must be
overtaxing us or call it what it is--an additional highway tax,” Stone said.
“But don't play games with these funds.”
The Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, another outspoken
critic of the proposed transfer in the Senate bill, was unavailable for
Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonprofit group whose goal is to reduce
government waste, said the proposal remains one of the most financially sound in
the transportation package.
“As long as we remain at reasonable funding levels to support federal cleanup
programs, we're not opposed to the transfer,” Erich Zimmermann, transportation
policy adviser with the group, told BNA.
The report from the Joint Committee on Taxation is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=aada-8urqej.