How do states receive UST Program approval?

EPA EPA recognizes that, because of the size and diversity of the regulated community, state and local governments are in the best position to oversee USTs:

  • State and local authorities are closer to the situation in their domain and are in the best position to set priorities.
  • Subtitle I of the Solid Waste Disposal Act allows state UST programs approved by EPA to operate in lieu of the federal program.
  • The state program approval (SPA) regulations set criteria for states to obtain the authority to operate in lieu of the federal program. State programs must be at least as stringent as EPA’s.

EPA’s regional offices coordinate the state program approval process for states and territories under their jurisdiction. EPA regional officials work closely with state officials while state programs are under development.

Once state legislatures enact statutes and state agencies develop regulations in accord with EPA requirements and put other necessary components of a program in place, states may apply for formal approval. EPA must respond to applications within 180 days.

A state program is approved if it is judged to meet three criteria:

  1. It sets standards for eight performance criteria that are no less stringent than federal standards.
  2. It contains provisions for adequate enforcement.
  3. It regulates at least the same USTs as are regulated under federal standards.

Which states have approved programs?

As of April 2015, 38 states and the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have approved state programs. The states with approved programs are: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

What are the benefits of state program approval?

Owners and operators in states that have an approved UST program do not have to deal with two sets of statutes and regulations (state and federal) that may be conflicting. States take pride in obtaining federal approval of their programs.

Once their programs are approved, states have the lead role in UST program enforcement. In states without an approved program, EPA will work with state officials in coordinating UST enforcement actions.

All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have a comprehensive set of UST leak prevention and release detection regulations and a program to implement those regulations. Additionally, all states have cleanup programs. Even for states without SPA, EPA enters into grant/cooperative agreements with state programs, and the state program is designated as the primary implementing agency. While both federal and state regulations apply in states without SPA, the state regulations are generally just as stringent as, and oftentimes significantly more stringent than, EPA’s regulations.

Need more information about a particular state’s program?

To assist you in understanding SPA, OUST provides the following links to additional information:

If need further assistance, contact the EPA regional office or the UST/LUST program in your state or territory. The program office is usually located in the state environmental agency. Program staff will provide information or referrals.