SourceLine News & Insights

PICTURED: According to the EPA, green states have approved state UST programs as of September 2017. Source:

For many people working in the fuel industry, compliance management is one of the most nerve-racking aspects of day-to-day operations. New regulations can make it seem even more daunting. To help simplify some of the complexities associated with the adoption of the 2015 federal regulations, Source compiled answers to several frequently-asked underground storage tank regulation questions. To learn more about upcoming federal UST deadlines, please read UST Compliance Update: Meet Next Deadline with Confidence.

Q: Which UST regulations does my fuel site need to follow?
Which state your fuel site is located in determines which set(s) of UST regulations you need to follow. In states with “State Program Approval” (SPA), the state is the ruling authority. Fuel sites located in states without SPA must meet that state’s regulations as well as all federal regulations.

Q: What is SPA and how does it impact compliance in my state?
In 1988, the EPA published final regulations that allow the agency to delegate authority of UST requirements to state agencies. Since then, 38 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have instituted SPA. SPA does not apply to USTs in Indian country, which must meet the 2015 federal requirements. SPA states must meet or exceed the federal UST requirements in their rulemaking.

Q: What are the benefits of SPA to UST operators?
UST owners and operators in SPA states do not have to interpret and meet multiple sets of regulations (state and federal), which may conflict with one another. Owners and operators in SPA states must continue to follow their state requirements until the state changes its requirements or until the state’s SPA status changes.

Q: Are there any special requirements for SPA states?
Yes. Under the 2015 state program approval regulation that was part of the EPA’s July 2015 UST revisions, the 38 states that were previously authorized for SPA must re-apply by Oct. 13, 2018 to retain their SPA status.

Q: Which SPA states have updated their UST regulations to include the 2015 federal regulations?
According to the EPA, as of August 2018, these SPA states and territories had updated their UST regulations. The EPA has compiled a table of compliance deadlines for states and territories that have updated their UST regulations to include the federal requirements.

Q: I operate in a SPA state, but my state isn’t listed as one of the states that the EPA identifies as having approved regulations. Does that mean my state is forfeiting its authority?
Not necessarily. Some SPA states intend to update their regulations to meet the federal requirements. Several have proposed adoption of the regulations or are pursuing rulemaking to propose adoption of the amendments. Further, a SPA application may technically be approved by a regional administrator, but the process to publish the approval of the program’s Federal Register notice is still under way, and therefore updated documentation of updated regulations isn’t yet available.

Q: Are non-SPA states updating their regulations to include the new federal regulations?
Some non-SPA states are updating their regulations to coincide with the federal updates, some are pursuing updates but will introduce them in the coming years, and others appear to not be pursuing updates at this time.

Q: How can I learn more about my state’s regulations?
Source is preparing a comprehensive state-by-state guide of UST regulations. Visit in the coming weeks and months for additional information. Also, you may contact your EPA regional administrator or the UST/Leaking Underground Storage Tank program in your state.