Last updated November 21, 2023.
Will PLIA be a direct provider with the State Financial Assurance Program?
Is the State Financial Assurance Program separate from the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Loan & Grant Program?
What are the objectives of the State Financial Assurance Program?
The State Financial Assurance Program is intended to help owners and operators of petroleum USTs comply with state and federal financial responsibility regulations. Through this program, PLIA will directly assist UST owners and operators with funds to address contamination and increase successful cleanups.
Because there is a tax providing for cleanup, what is the fee contributing to?
Funds from the Petroleum Products Tax and the fees provide funds for conducting cleanups, infrastructure improvement, and to cover the administrative costs of the program.
Will this program affect a Loan and Grant Program applicant’s position in line?
Loan and Grant Program applicants will continue to maintain their position for funding.
Will petroleum UST site owners and operators be required to register their tank(s)? Does cost recovery apply to tanks that are not part of the program? Will the program cover releases existing prior to the State Financial Assurance Program’s implementation?
In order to receive $2 Million coverage from the State Financial Assurance Program, a petroleum UST owner or operator must register their tank(s) in accordance with procedures established by PLIA and maintain compliance with program eligibility requirements. PLIA may spend up to $1 millon to investigate or clean up a release from a petroleum underground storage tank not registered under the program, under certain conditions, for example, for the protection of drinking water, or to equitably protect human health and the environment in communities that have been marginalized, overburdened, and underserved. PLIA will only take such actions when the property owner provides access and consent for the agency to recover costs.
What is the difference between insurance and assurance?
Private insurers may continue to offer coverage, and PLIA encourages you to contact them directly about their coverage options. PLIA will create and publish a handout about the assurance program once the details are finalized.
If a petroleum UST owner chooses to stay with a private insurer, would they still have access to historical release coverage for leaks prior to the start of private coverage? Does coverage apply to orphan/abandoned sites?
PLIA may spend up to $1 millon to investigate or clean up a release from a petroleum underground storage tank not registered under the program, under certain conditions, for example, for the protection of drinking water, or to equitably protect human health and the environment in communities that have been marginalized, overburdened, and underserved. PLIA will only take such actions when the property owner provides access and consent for the agency to recover costs.
Who will be eligible to participate in the new program? Can aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) be enrolled? Does this new program affect private homeowners?
Any owner or operator of a regulated UST who is required to maintain financial responsibility is eligible to participate if the program requirements (which are being developed) are met. PLIA hasn’t yet made a decision regarding coverage of ASTs or tanks in temporary closure. This program is not applicable to residential heating oil tanks.
How much is the annual enrollment fee? What sort of fees would someone with several USTs that are not for commercial sale be required to pay to participate in the assurance program?
PLIA is currently reviewing fee structure options. The law states that the enrollment fee cannot exceed $25,000 per petroleum UST per year. The actual fee for each tank will be based on facility-specific factors.
What is the enrollment duration?
PLIA expects to offer annual enrollment renewals.
Will PLIA have enforcement authority related to this program to help get sites get cleaned up?
No. PLIA is not an enforcement agency and will not have enforcement authority with the State Financial Assurance Program.
The law allows PLIA to provide funding for sites with older releases. How will that work?
The law states that the Financial Assurance Program may provide up to $1M towards cleanup for sites that have a release prior to program enrollment. PLIA will prioritize funding based on: threats to human health and the environment posed by the release; whether the population threatened by the release may include a vulnerable population or an overburdened community; or other factors.
Will the Financial Assurance Program be a mandatory or voluntary program? Can I still purchase insurance on the open market?
The new program will be entirely voluntary. UST owners and operators can continue to purchase private insurance. If you have questions about policies that may be offered by private insurance companies, please contact those insurers directly.
Will PLIA provide 24/7 emergency response under the new program?
No, please contact the Department of Ecology’s Spills Program regarding emergency response for petroleum releases.
How will this program impact the tribal governments that own/operate gas stations?
Tribal owners and operators of USTs will be eligible to participate in the program if they choose.
What types of activities will be incentivized under this program?
Incentives will be developed as part of the program planning process with the goal of preventing releases and prioritizing cleanup.
Will UST owners and operators be required to send financial assurance documentation to the Business Licensing Department?
PLIA anticipates the procedures with Business Licensing will remain the same. PLIA is coordinating with them to keep them up to date on PLIA’s program.
Will the state have a list of approved or preferred contractors for the removal and installation of USTs under the Financial Assurance Program? Or will the state have a direct contract for consultants in the program?
PLIA is considering the options and may contract directly with consultants.
How many UST operators are there? How many can demonstrate financial responsibility on their own? How many would need to utilize the state program?
As reported on the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Cleanup and Tank Search on November 3, 2023, there were 3,313 active UST facilities in Washington State. There is currently no way to know how many UST operators will choose to use the Financial Assurance Program rather than continuing with other existing financial responsibility options.
Other states have UST funds that can allow for reimbursement for past owners of petroleum USTs. Will this program be able to provide this type of reimbursement or will it be strictly for current owners?
The Financial Assurance Program will not provide reimbursement to past owners of tanks.
Will there be a trial/adjustment period prior to full implementation?
There will not be a trial period prior to full implementation of the Financial Assurance Program. If PLIA deems that adjustments to the program are necessary after implementation, rule changes will be developed through the formal rulemaking process.
Is there a timeline for the program to begin?
There is currently no firm start date for the program to begin. PLIA first plans to develop rules for the program before implementation.
What additional steps are there prior to rule finalization? Are there more opportunities for public comment/engagement prior to implementation?
Drawing on the feedback from these listening sessions, PLIA will create draft rule language that will be made available to the public. PLIA will then schedule virtual public comment sessions that the public can attend to provide comments or questions on the draft rule language and the Financial Assurance Program. During the public comment period, the public will also be able to provide written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. When the public comment period is over, PLIA will then consider all feedback when finalizing the rule.
PLIA will post announcements for public comments on our Rulemaking and Public Engagement pages. We will also send out an email to those on our email distribution list to provide updates regarding rulemaking and public engagement opportunities. If you are interested in joining our email distribution list, please let us know through our online contact form, or email email@example.com.
Is there any impact to tanks owned by the federal government? Is it possible to change the verification process for government owned/operated tanks to not require annual financial assurance verification?
Federal tanks are governed by federal regulations (U.S. Code, Title 42, Chapter 82, Subchapter IX). A UST owner or operator may be able to use the Financial Assistance Program to meet federal requirements.
Will PLIA work with property owners on the cleanup process to support continued activity and profitability of business?
Yes. PLIA will work with both the property owners and the environmental consultants employed to perform remediation work at a cleanup site.
Will PLIA have a mechanism for directly paying consultants?
Yes. Consultants will submit invoices to PLIA through our Online Community and PLIA will pay them directly for the work performed.
If you have any questions about the State Financial Assurance Program, please contact us.