July 13, 2015 | Vol. 65, No. 13
Dear PEI Member:
Here are some of the most often asked questions—with answers—posed to us by TulsaLetter readers about the new underground storage tank (UST) regulation released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month (see summary in June 30 TulsaLetter).
What does the regulation say about USTs in Indian country? The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended Subtitle I of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA), the statute that authorized the UST program. Key Energy Policy Act provisions (such as secondary containment and operator training) apply to all states and United States’ territories receiving federal Subtitle I money under SWDA, regardless of their state approval status, but do NOT apply to Indian country. EPA directly implements the UST program in Indian country. In order to establish federal UST requirements that are similar to the UST secondary containment and operator training requirements of the Energy Policy Act, EPA decided to revise its 1988 UST regulation. The 2015 regulation requires secondary containment and operator training in Indian country. EPA will implement this requirement 180 days after the effective date of the UST regulation because of the large capital expenditure associated with new secondarily-contained tanks, piping and under-dispenser containment. The 180 days will allow owners and operators in Indian country who have concrete plans for installing a new UST system, but have not yet applied for or obtained approvals or permits, to install these UST systems.
What did EPA decide to do about process tanks, including oil/water separators? Nothing. Flow-through process tanks were excluded, not deferred, from the 1988 regulation. In other words, they were never regulated by the federal EPA and weren’t on the table for review this time around.
What states and territories do not have State Program
Approval (SPA)? Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois,
Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Wisconsin,
Wyoming, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Samoa.
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States have three years to obtain SPA or redo their SPA application. It appears that gives them three years to write a rule. If the operation and maintenance requirements, plus the walkthrough requirements, have to be initiated within three years of the effective date of the rule, does that give SPA states three years or six years to start the O&M and walkthrough requirements? We couldn’t figure out the answer to this question ourselves, so we asked EPA. Here is EPA’s response. “In states without state program approval (SPA) and in Indian country, the new requirements will apply according to time frames specified in the 2015 regulation. In states with SPA, none of the new requirements will apply until:
Owners and operators in states with SPA must continue to meet the state requirements. States will have three years from the effective date of the federal regulation to revise their regulations and submit a revised SPA application. States can give owners the same amount of time to meet the state requirements as the federal regulations give owners to meet the federal requirements. We expect that many states will impose a shorter timeline than those in the federal requirements and may even impose more stringent requirements than the federal regulation.”
Is PEI planning to update its recommended practices that were added to EPA’s new UST regulation? PEI typically updates its recommended practices every five years. Our review of PEI’s Recommended Practices for the Inspection and Maintenance of UST Systems (RP900) was delayed two years until after the EPA rules that covered walkthrough inspections were published. RP900 will be updated in the first quarter of 2016. Persons wanting to submit comments to change RP900 can do so by clicking on the Comment Now button here. Deadline for comments to be submitted for review by the PEI UST System Inspection & Maintenance Committee is October 30.
The other two documents referenced in the federal regulation, Recommended Practices for the Testing and Verification of Spill, Overfill, Leak Detection and Secondary Containment Equipment at UST Facilities (RP1200) and Recommended Practices for Installation of Underground Liquid Storage Systems (RP100) will be revised later in 2016. Deadline to receive comments for either document is January 29, 2016. Go here to comment on RP1200 and here to comment on RP100.
What is the effective date of the regulation? That coincides with the publication of the regulation in the Federal Register, which has yet to happen but is expected soon.
EPA HEARING ON RFS PRODUCTION GOALS
The testimony was what you’d expect to hear at public forums such as this. Pro-ethanol speakers insisted the RFS is a valuable tool to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil that will pay future dividends in the fight against climate change. The oil sector derided the RFS as an inefficient program that is driving up costs for fuel suppliers/marketers and food producers, and poses issues to motorists at the pump.
While the testimony in Kansas City centered on the RFS biofuel volume target proposals out to 2016 (along with biomass-based diesel volumes out to 2017), much of the hallway discussion I participated in concerned the possibility that EPA would reset biofuel targets for 2017 and beyond. Congress wrote into the program a reset provision that lets EPA refigure the Congressional volumes of renewable fuels starting in 2016 if EPA has reduced any of the mandates by at least 20 percent for two consecutive years or by at least 50 percent for a single year. EPA’s current proposal would reduce the overall renewable fuels blending requirements by more than 20 percent in both 2015 and 2016.
Janet McCabe, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management Subcommittee (that’s quite a mouthful) June 18 that EPA will pursue a renewable fuel standard reset once it winds up its current proposal to set standards for 2014, 2015 and 2016, which must be completed by November 30. “The minute 2016 is done we will be turning our full attention to the 2017 rule and the reset,” McCabe said. Her statement was echoed by the federal EPA officials I talked to in Kansas City, although they were mum on any specifics about what the reset would look like.
What comes next after the 2016 rule is still anyone’s guess, but it will set the stage for what is to come in the years that follow.
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The TulsaLetter (ISSN 0193-9467) is published two or three times each month by the Petroleum Equipment Institute. Robert N. Renkes, Executive Vice President, Editor. Opinions expressed are the opinions of the Editor. Basic circulation confined to PEI members.