About the Fund:
Underground storage tanks (USTs) in the United States are primarily used for the storage of petroleum products. They are found at service stations, connected to boilers/steam generators, or connected to emergency generators. The use of petroleum products stored in tanks contributes significantly to the economic well-being and quality of life of U.S. citizens. Leaks, spills, and other releases of petroleum products from storage tanks endanger public health and safety, ground water quality, and other state resources.
It was not until catastrophic UST failures and large-scale groundwater contamination occurred in several other states that Congress recognized the need for UST regulation. Because nearly one-half of the United States relies on groundwater as a source of drinking water, the need for UST regulation was considered highly important. By enacting Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle I in November 1984, Congress required operational standards for USTs and response standards that would protect human health and the environment from potential UST releases.
In 1988, the Environmental Protection Agency published final regulations setting the minimum technical standards for new and existing USTs and required owners or operators to demonstrate financial responsibility for taking corrective action and for compensating third parties for bodily injury and property damage caused by an accidental petroleum release. It was evident that adequate financial resources need to be available, either public or private, to address problems caused by releases from petroleum storage tanks.
The Montana Legislature determined that public funds would be necessary to support a program of release detection for petroleum storage tanks and to assist owners and operators with corrective action costs from a petroleum release. The Legislature determined that proper funding for the prevention program and the cleanup fund would be financed through a petroleum storage tank cleanup fee paid by persons who use and receive the benefits of petroleum products (MCA 75-11-314). The Montana Petroleum Tank Release Cleanup Fund (Petro-Fund) was created in 1989 to provide adequate remedies for the protection of the environmental life support system from degradation by petroleum and to provide adequate remedies to prevent unreasonable depletion and degradation of natural resources by petroleum use. The cleanup fund was established as a state special revenue fund (ARM 17-1-101)(4b) and is administered as a revolving fund by the Petroleum Tank Release Compensation Board (Petro-Board).