State Program Approvals

It’s often pointed out that UST regulations can vary from state to state, so it’s important to check-in with the state regulatory authority before implementing a new practice, installing/removing equipment, etc. Why is that? Underground storage tanks are regulated by the U.S. EPA, a federal agency, right? Yes, the EPA has a division specifically dedicated to the regulation of USTs, but they recognize that local governments are better positioned to oversee the regulations.

States are permitted to submit their own regulatory programs to the EPA for review and approval. State Program Approvals (SPA) set criteria for states to operate in lieu of the federal programs. However, the SPA must be at least as stringent as the EPAs program. Due to the revised federal regulations in 2015, many states are currently in the process of submitting a new SPA for review. Each SPA must meet these 3 criteria to be approved:

  1. Sets standards for 8 performance criteria that are no less stringent that federal standards
  2. Contains provisions for adequate enforcement
  3. Regulates at least the same USTs as are regulated under federal standards

Once a program has been approved, the state takes the lead in regulating underground storage tank systems. Owners and operators only have to report one authority, as opposed to two (state and federal). If there is no SPA in place, the EPA will work the state officials to coordinate UST enforcement measures and actions. For more information on whether or not your state has an updated SPA, visit the EPA’s website.

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