With respect to the diversion of UST Fund monies, the Administrations proposal will cause additional and unconscionable delays in completing the task of removing old leaking underground storage tanks and remedying the contaminated soils and groundwater. While, during the last biennium, the Administration estimated that $25 million for each year of the budget cycle would be sufficient to cover anticipated claims, it was wrong in its predictions and the bonded funding was insufficient to do so with the result that a number of eligible sites were turned away, resulting in continued unremedied contamination and unnecessary delays in returning these lands to productive use. The failure of the Administration to reserve sufficient funds to meet the need, and the repeated diversion of these supposedly-dedicated funds has failed to keep faith with those most in need of assistance the mom and pop operations and those exiting the business for whom the small operators assistance account was created.
I urge you to demand from the agency realistic estimates of the unmet needs, including those sites that were not processed during this biennium due to lack of available funds, and that sufficient funds be provided to assure that no eligible site will be turned away for lack of funds as has been the case during this biennium.
The second concern is with the diversion of $550,100 in restricted funds from the Division of Air Quality to the Division of Water in order to support pursuit of state primacy of the Clean Water Act Section 404 program. As a participant in the Section 404 Task Force that studied possible state assumption of that program, I can assure the Committee that the Task Force never entertained the idea that the funding for that program would come at the expense of existing regulatory programs. The proposed diversion of funds is a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and I ask that the funding be restored.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of these concerns.