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7/8/2005
Councilman Weiner proposes NACo resolution to protect environment and prevent federal gov't unfunded mandate program

Councilman Bob Weiner, New Castle County Council, DE will be presenting a Resolution to the National Association of Counties (NACo), at its annual conference in Honolulu next week. If adopted, NACo, which represents 2000 of the 3000 counties nationwide, will then be able to effectively lobby congress to oppose proposed language in the pending federal energy bill that will both threaten the quality of our water supply here in new castle county and throughout the country. the federal legislation would also create an unfunded mandate for state and local government. the leaking underground storage tanks (UST) delivery prohibition sections of the House energy bill are some of the most significant provisions that affect local land use authority.

Weiner serves as Chairman of NACo's Land Use and Growth Management Subcommittee, one of 5 subcommittees of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Steering Committee.

"It is critical that we prevent the enactment of th e federal energy bill with this proposed amendment. my Resolution, if adopted, will enable naco to effectivly lobby congress to stop this proposed amendment; thereby saving our local government money in out of the pocket clean up costs while keeping our drinking water supplys safe."

"The legislation contains a number of provisions which preempt, override or result in the diminishment of existing states' authorities, both procedural and substantive," Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee wrote, also noting that the House legislation includes liability protection for producers of the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), which the Congressional Budget Office has determined is an unfunded mandate.

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Environment, Energy AND LAND USE steering committee

proposed RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT of FUNDing the Leaking underground storage tank fund (UST)

Issue:
Support for the leaking underground storage tank (UST) fund program

Proposed Policy: NACo supports full funding for the leaking underground storage tank (UST) clean-up program. UST funds should be used for their intended purpose, to remediate contamination caused from USTs and prevent future contamination from underground storage tanks (UST). NACo opposes any efforts to use this fund for other uses besides the UST program.

Background: In 1986, Congress established the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (UST) Trust Fund to help the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states pay the costs of cleaning up leaking petroleum USTs where owners fail to do so, and to oversee UST cleanup activities.

There are approximately 700,000 underground storage tanks in the United States, most containing gasoline, diesel fuel, and other toxic chemicals. Nationwide, more than 370,000 leaks from underground storage tanks (USTs) have been detected, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects that many more could be confirmed as older tanks are upgraded, replaced, or closed to meet regulations. These leaks have resulted in polluted drinking water in communities throughout the country, costing them millions in clean up, remediation, and countless public health consequences.

While the UST trust fund currently exceeds $2 billion, much of this money has yet to be fully appropriated, leaving huge gaps in the program. To date, only 38 percent of the funds has been appropriated; about $788 million dollars. There are states/localities that are currently overwhelmed by the scope of the UST problem but they are severely understaffed. The appropriated funds are needed for inspections, compliance and replacement of leaking underground storage tanks.

To further complicate the issue, in addition to the other contaminates, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) contamination has been found at thousands of UST sites. MTBE, a gasoline additive to reduce emissions, is water soluble, but is more costly to remediate than the other contaminates.

Some proposals on Capitol Hill tie MTBE contamination clean-up to the UST funds. The problem with this so-called solution is several fold. First, the UST fund is not adequately funded. Second, MTBE contamination is not just found at UST sites. It has been detected miles away. It is difficult to link the contamination with the UST sites. Third, UST money should be used strictly for clean-up of USTs.

Fiscal/Urban/Rural Impact: It will save our localities money in out of the pocket clean up costs while keeping our drinking water supply safe.

Submitted by: Bob Weiner, Councilman, New Castle County, Delaware

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