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Bipartisanship in Colorado

DENVER -- For those who despaired over the prospects of bipartisan agreement on any topic -- there's hope in Colorado. At this year's session of the state legislature, both parties and both houses were able to get together to pass House Bill 1185, which deals with the important issue of underground storage tanks.

The bill extends the Petroleum Storage Tank Program and the tiered fees structure from its present sunset date of 2012 to 2018, assuring Colorado "of long term sustainability of both the fund and ... workers and their companies that work with the state to clean up leaking tanks."

It also promotes business administration efficiency by harmonizing the payment dates for the environmental response surcharge with the state fuel excise tax.

And it adds a higher level of confidence for consumers, who will be assured that when they pay for 10 gallons of gas at the pump, they will get 10 gallons of gas in their tanks, since the inspectors who calibrate the pumps will continue to be paid out of the Petroleum Storage Tank Fund. Inspectors will also perform fuel quality testing, making certain that dispensed fuel meets state standards, a service that has taken on greater significance with the advent of biofuels mandates. This provision, also extended to 2018, avoids the budget pressures every state is facing with their general funds.

"The petroleum Storage Tank Program is a national model of best practices," said Mark Larson, executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Marketers Association (CPMA). "Through a balanced sharing of financial participation by tank owners, end users and the federal government, Colorado's citizens can be assured that accidental petroleum storage tank releases will be handled in the quickest, most effective and responsible manner."

Environmental remediation companies support the bill. One is Altus Environmental (Boulder, Colo.), whose principal, Art Veenendaal, testified his company extends credit to small business operators for remediation purposes, understanding they will get reimbursed for the Petroleum Storage Tank Fund. Altus would not provide this service to their customers, said Veenandaal, if it did not believe in the strength of the fund and the long-term financial stability going forward.

HB 1185 was also supported by both the CPMA and the Oil and Public Safety Division in the Department of Labor. The governor is expected to sign the bill.
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