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NEW YORK -- The hope that the federal government and state government will work together to accomplish a goal beneficial to both is sometimes only a gleam in a taxpayer's eye, but in Tennessee it actually happened. It has to do with the state's Underground Storage Tank (UST) Fund.
As in almost every state, Tennessee's budget has been under strain, causing deep departmental cuts. The state's Division of Underground Storage Tanks was no exception, reducing its expenses by $9 million dollars over a period of three years.
Essential operations such as clean-ups, inspections and the prioritization of contamination cases were in danger of being compromised, although the three-year spread helped a bit.
Enter the federal government bearing $4.6 million under its arm as Tennessee's portion of the $197 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with the money earmarked to help clean up underground storage leaks and assess damage at 44 sites eligible for federal assistance.
As a result, Tennessee's UST division declared that it will not "slow or shelve clean-up efforts." Nor will it fail to respond to any UST emergency that may occur, and will "meet the inspection obligations mandated by the EPA."
The federal funds, which must be spent by Sept. 30, 2011, with at least 15 percent spent the first year, will also generate jobs as it boosts work at equipment manufacturers. And equipment bought with the money will become state property.
All of which is heartening news to Emily LeRoy, executive director of the Tennessee Fuel and Convenience Store Association (TFCA). "Our members, and the public at large, have a vital stake in the continued health of the Underground Storage Tank Fund. The fact that the clean-ups and inspections will continue unabated is good news. It’s a great example of the federal stimulus program working and we're grateful for it."
On another front, the TFCA is celebrating its 80th anniversary next week at its annual convention and conference that runs from Sept. 13 to 16, at the Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C. For more information call (866) 625-2496.