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NO. 128. AN ACT RELATING TO THE UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK REMOVAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.

(H.623)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 10 V.S.A. § 1941 is amended to read:

§ 1941. PETROLEUM CLEANUP FUND

(a) A fund to be known as the petroleum cleanup fund is created in the state treasury, to be expended by the secretary of the agency of natural resources. The fund shall consist of licensing fees and petroleum tank fees assessed under the provisions of this chapter, loan repayments, and disbursements that have been recovered, except for underground storage tank permit fees and licensing fees for tank inspectors. All balances in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall be carried forward and remain a part of the fund. Interest earned by the fund shall be deposited into the fund. Disbursements from the fund shall be made by the state treasurer on warrants drawn by the commissioner of finance and management. The secretary shall seek to recover from responsible parties costs incurred under subdivision (b)*[(7)]*(8) of this section.

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(g) The owner of a farm or residential underground fuel oil storage tank used for on-premises heating that desires assistance to close, replace, or upgrade the tank may apply to the secretary for such assistance. The financial assistance may be in the form of grants or loans of up to *[$500.00]* $1,000.00 or the costs of closure, replacement, or upgrade, whichever is less. Grants or loans shall be made only to the current property owners *[who can establish that the owner or owners of record of the property in question, during the preceding tax year, had a cumulative federal adjusted gross income of $50,000.00 or less]*. To be eligible to receive the grant or loan, an environmental site assessment must be conducted by a qualified consultant during the underground storage tank closure, replacement, or upgrade. In addition, if the closed tank is to be replaced with another underground storage tank, the replacement tank and piping shall provide a level of environmental protection at least equivalent to that provided by a double wall tank and secondarily contained piping. Grants or loans shall be awarded on a priority basis to projects that will avoid the greatest environmental or health risks. The secretary shall also give priority to applicants who are replacing their underground tanks with above ground storage tanks, that will be installed in accordance with the secretary’s recommended standards. The secretary shall also give priority to lower income applicants. The secretary shall only authorize up to *[$50,000.00]* $100,000.00 in assistance grants or loans in any one fiscal year. The application must be accompanied by the following information:

(1) proof of ownership, including information disclosing all owners of record of the property;

(2) *[an affidavit that the adjusted gross income of the owner, or the combined adjusted gross income of all owners, if more than one, is $50,000.00 or less. Any owner or owners who have not provided accurate information shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000.00, which shall be deposited into the petroleum cleanup fund]* identification of the contractor performing any underground storage tank closure, replacement, or upgrade, and the consultant performing the site assessment;

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Sec. 2. 10 V.S.A. § 1944 is amended to read:

§ 1944. UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK LOAN ASSISTANCE

PROGRAM

(a) The secretary may make individual loans of up to $40,000.00 for:

(1) the replacement of underground storage tanks used for the storage of petroleum products and permitted under section 1927 of this title and in existence on January 1, 1987. Such loans may be made only for the replacement of tanks at a retail gasoline outlet that sells less than 20,000 gallons of gasoline per month or at a municipal facility when the municipality has a population of less than 2,500 people;

(2) the replacement or improvement, or both, of piping, tank-top sumps, and other components of the secondary containment and release detection systems, for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of a release of regulated substance to the environment.

(b) Loans shall be made to the person who owns the existing tanks or will own the new tanks. Loans will be in accordance with terms and conditions established by the secretary which shall include but not be limited to requirements that:

(1) loans be made only for the costs associated with the replacement of an underground storage tank or improvement of piping and ancillary equipment used for the storage of petroleum products and associated facilities with a tank and facilities conforming to the requirements of this chapter;

(2) loans be secured by *[mortgages, on real property or equipment, which may be subordinate to one or more prior mortgages]* means satisfactory to the secretary;

(3) proposed projects comply with all planning, zoning, laws, and regulation of the municipality where they are located and of the state of Vermont;

(4) loans have a satisfactory maturity date, in no case later than ten years from the date of the loan.

*[(b)]*(c) The loans will be at a zero interest rate. *[(c)]*(d) The secretary shall deposit repayments to the petroleum cleanup fund. *[(d)]*(e) The secretary may contract with other state agencies or authorities or with a commercial lending institution to carry out all or any portion of this loan program. *[(e)]*(f) At no time shall the amount of outstanding loans exceed the total of the amount of funds deposited to the petroleum cleanup fund from the licensing fee established by section 1942 of this title.

(g) The secretary may refinance existing loans for *[the replacement of]* tanks used for the storage of petroleum products incurred after July 1, 1987 under the same terms, conditions, and limitations which apply to initial loans.

Approved: May 12, 2000