State Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) today announced that his bill extending the sunset date of two critically important environmental protection grant programs unanimously passed the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 1398 would extend the sunset date of the Underground Storage Tank Environmental Cleanup Program and the Underground Storage Tank Pollution Prevention Program to June 30, 2017. Both programs were set to sunset in June of this year unless reauthorized by the legislature.

"We need to continue to fund programs that protect our environment and assist homeowners and small business owners address environmental safety concerns that arise from aging underground storage tanks," Yudichak said. "The corrosion of old underground storage tanks is extremely detrimental to our environment and must be addressed quickly before the contamination becomes more wide spread and costly."

The Underground Storage Tank Environmental Cleanup Program provides financial assistance for owners of underground storage tanks with a capacity of 3,000 gallons or less. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is authorized to use $500,000 to provide reimbursements to tank owners for the actual costs of corrective action up to $5,000. The owner must first pay a $1,000 deductible to qualify for funding.

The Underground Storage Tank Pollution Prevention Program is a program designed to help small tank owners cover the cost of pumping out and sealing very old underground storage tanks that were never upgraded to meet regulations. Yudichak said that while the law authorizes DEP to use up to $1 million for small business owners.

Yudichak said he expects a full Senate vote on Senate Bill 1398 tomorrow.