State Program Approval (SPA) is a difficult concept at first. But is not so hard once you wrap your head around it. Simply, SPA-approved states, take the lead. Non-SPA states rely on the EPA.
SPA is vitally important now because of revised federal and state rules going into effect this fall. Underground Storage Tank (UST) owners and operators need to know what SPA means and how it impacts their state regulations and ultimately their facility.
From the EPA’s website: “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.”
States that have applied for and received federal SPA status will not have conflicting regulations. Once the state program is approved by the EPA, the state’s regulatory body has the lead role in UST program enforcement. In states without SPA approval, states work with the EPA on enforcement.
By law, all states and commonwealths, plus the District of Columbia, must have UST leak prevention and release detection regulations, spill response and cleanup programs, and an enforcement agency.
In states without SPA status, the state has a grant or cooperative agreements with the EPA. The state program is designated as the implementing regulatory body. While federal and state regulations apply in states without SPA, state regulations are generally just as stringent as, and often more stringent than EPA’s regulations.
So what does that mean for you concerning your state and the October deadline?
Basically, it allows enforcement deadlines to change. For example, the monthly inspection requirement can be pushed back to 2020 opposed to this October.
How do you know if this is going on in your state?
The EPA has created a list of entities with SPA status, which are the majority. However, most have to reapply for SPA status due to new 2015 regulations, and they have three years to complete their application as of October 2018. You can view the EPA’s list here, or for those more visually inclined, here is a SPA map:
If you need more information concerning your state or the guidelines contact your regulatory agency.
PASS UST operator training has these details for each state included in our training. Also remember, that PASS Tools is a complete UST compliance management software that to help navigate these waters.