Legislature Creates Viable Funding Source for Spill Response Fund
HB 158 aims to keep fund healthy and growing for times of need
Saturday, April 18, 2015, Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska House of Representatives today concurred with Senate changes to legislation creating a viable, long-term funding source for the state’s core spill prevention and response initiatives. The bill passed the Alaska Senate on a vote of 13-7 yesterday.
House Bill 158, by Representative Cathy Muñoz, establishes an environmental surcharge of ninety-five hundredths of a penny per gallon on refined fuel sold, transferred, or used in the state that will be appropriated to the prevention account. Currently, the Prevention and Response Fund is financed with a five cent per-barrel surcharge on oil produced.
Representative Muñoz and Senator Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, worked closely on drafting language and speaking with the industry, environmental groups, and the administration, to come up with a bill supported by all sides.
“HB 158 is critical to the state’s ability to fund the response of fuel spills in our communities, along our roads and in our rivers and lakes,” Micciche, who carried the bill on the Senate Floor, said. “Most spills result from refined fuels, not crude oil; but in the past all spills cleaned up by the fund were paid for by a fee on the producers of crude oil. They will continue to pay their share, however this legislation apportions clean-up costs more equitably. The lion’s share of new costs will be covered by mid-sized industries. For the small proportion passed down to the consumer, the average driving Alaskan family will likely spend less than a penny per day.”
“Alaskans value a healthy environment. Many remember the devastation of the Exxon oil spill on March 24, 1989,” Muñoz, R-Juneau, said. “That event demanded a long term funding solution to prevent and respond to not only large scale spills but also smaller scale contaminated sites, marine spills, and other fuel releases. The Legislature enacted a surcharge on oil production to fund prevention and response activities.”
The environmental surcharge is estimated to generate an additional $7.5 million for the Prevention and Response Account.
Exempted from the surcharge are military, international flights, federal and state government, and all aviation fuel.
HB 158, which passed the House on a vote of 21-19, now goes to the governor for signature. Once signed, the bill takes effect July 1, 2015.