Michigan's fuel tax may pay for cleanup

| 12/5/2005

A state commission wants Michigan to increase the state per-gallon tax on fuel by at least 1.1 cents a gallon. That would bring in $77 million for cleaning up leaks from underground fuel storage tanks.

An estimated 7,000 underground storage tank sites contaminate the ground and water sources throughout the state, despite a nearly 20-year-old federal mandate to clean them up, the Lansing State Journal reported.

The state’s goal is 600 cleanups a year, but a lack of funds limited Michigan to 265 during the past year.

The Refined Petroleum Cleanup Advisory Council, created by state lawmakers, recommended increasing the cleanup tax from its current 0.875 cents per gallon to at least 2 cents on the wholesale price of motor fuels and other petroleum products.

The advisory council wants at least $120 million a year for cleanup work.

If the Legislature approves the higher fee, the increase would raise the amount of money for cleanups from about $60 million a year to about $137 million, Department of Environmental Quality funding specialist Sharon Goble told the Journal.

After securing money for the cleanups, measures must be put in place to prevent lawmakers from dipping into it for other uses, said advisory council Chairman Kenneth Vermeulen.