Petroleum Marketers Urge White House To Cut Compliance Cost of Storage Tank Rule

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By Anthony Adragna

Dec. 9 — Petroleum marketers urged the White House Office of Management and Budget to reduce the compliance costs associated with revisions to underground storage tank requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Rob Underwood, director of congressional relations at the Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA), told Bloomberg BNA.

Compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency proposed regulations would cost $6,960 per gasoline station per year, not $900 as estimated by the agency, the groups told the OMB at the Nov. 19 meeting, a record of which was posted online.

The group made an alternative proposal to OMB that it said would achieve the same level of environmental protection with compliance costs of $1,555 per station per year.

Small petroleum marketers, convenience stores and airlines are among the groups that would be affected by the revisions to the underground storage tank requirements. A final regulation is expected early in 2015, according to the EPA.

“The last thing we want is an underground storage tank leak, but our goal here is to lower the compliance costs while preserving the same level of environmental protection,” Underwood said.

PMAA in January 2013 urged the agency to withdraw the regulation and to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review panel, although the EPA declined to do so. The association previously said the proposed EPA regulation would cost the 233,157 affected facilities nationwide a combined $1.37 billion annually.

Proposed in 2011

In November 2011, the EPA released the proposed rule, which would apply to underground storage tanks containing petroleum or other hazardous chemical-containing underground storage tanks. The tanks are regulated under Subtitle I of RCRA.

Tanks regulated under Subtitle C of RCRA would not be regulated under the proposal.

The proposed rule would mandate backup containment systems for certain tanks, expand tank owner and operator training requirements and mandate owners and operators to periodically test tank components (76 Fed. Reg. 71,708).

Underwood said PMAA members most strongly objected to interstitial monitoring requirements associated with secondary containment systems, which would be among the most expensive and burdensome requirements of the rulemaking.

The PMAA counterproposal would retain the monthly extension requirements but require them to be based on the type of equipment used at the storage tanks, rather than requiring one uniform inspection for all tanks. The proposal allows most of the testing requirements to be done at some point but lessens the frequency of most testing.

In July 2013, the group spearheaded bipartisan Senate and House letters urging the EPA to withdraw the proposed rule over concerns about the effect it would have on small businesses.

Keeping Congressional, Legal Options Open

Underwood said PMAA would keep all its options open, but would consider pushing “some options” in Congress or legal action if major improvements were not incorporated into the final regulation.

“We’re just waiting, but we’re eventually going to have to put our heads together see if we’ll sue EPA or go back to Congress,” Underwood said.

PMAA previously successfully sued the EPA and required it to convene a small business panel during the early 2000s, according to Underwood.

Other participants in the meeting with OMB included the EPA, Small Business Administration and two members of PMAA—Bjornson Oil Co. and Volta Oil Co, according to meeting records.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

The PMAA counterproposal on the underground storage tank regulation is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=fwhe-9rmrjv.