Economic Development Funding for Underground Storage Tanks

By Bret Stuntz

Program knowledge is critical because the difference in funding can be significant.

In recent years, the trend of economic development funding in Michigan has been one of diminishment. More and more restrictions apply to public subsidies, and the overall pot of available dollars is smaller than it once was. Assessment and remediation funding available through the US Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has been reduced. One area that has been bucking this trend, however, is public funding associated with underground storage tank (UST) related activities.

Michigan mainly uses these four incentives programs to address UST issues:

  • MDEQ Brownfield UST Funding
  • Michigan Refined Petroleum Fund (RPF)
  • Michigan Underground Storage Tank Authority (MUSTA)
  • Brownfield Tax Increment Financing

Each of the programs are different. For example, MDEQ Brownfield UST Funding can provide up to $1 million for assessment and corrective actions; however, the funds must flow through a unit of government or authority, and the ability to spend the funds requires significant lead time. Use of Michigan RFP monies, in contrast, can occur more quickly, but the funding is administered by MDEQ technical project managers, and MDEQ exercises more control over how the work is performed. Neither MDEQ Brownfield UST funding nor Michigan RFP monies require that parties involved in the assessment and cleanup work be owners or operators of the property in question.

For owners and operators, MUSTA can fund corrective actions and otherwise help achieve compliance with Michigan’s leaking UST rules. MUSTA operates similar to insurance and, after payment of a small deductible, will generally fund up to $1 million for corrective actions/compliance associated with a release during a single claim period (up to $2 million for owners and operators with more than 100 USTs). MUSTA cannot reimburse UST removal activities, however. Brownfield tax increment financing, on the other hand, can be used for reimbursement of demolition and UST removal activities – as well as corrective actions (and in certain circumstances it can be used to the benefit of liable parties), but reimbursement is conditioned on material increases to real property values, and full reimbursement typically takes several years.

There are many more differences (and opportunities) within the programs. Knowing which program (or programs) to use requires specialized knowledge, both environmental/technical knowledge and incentives planning expertise. AKT Peerless can provide both. This is important, because the benefits to an end user can be as much as $1 million in grant funds, loans, and/or reimbursements.

If you are an owner or operator of a UST in Michigan, you should contact me to arrange a free consultation. My team and I are specialists at economic development funding and USTs, and we’ve identified and secured hundreds of millions for our clients over the years while also addressing their environmental needs. Call me at 248-302-1398 or email me at stuntzb@aktpeerless.com so we can take a look at your specific situation.

About the Author

Bret Stuntz, Vice President of Economic Development for AKT Peerless, has 20 years of consulting experience on economic development projects spanning real estate finance, development and multi-faceted brownfield initiatives.  His skills include evaluating environmental risks associated with all types of real estate, identifying and qualifying incentives for redevelopment projects and navigating environmental laws.

About AKT Peerless

We are environmental consultants and redevelopment experts who are proud to help build sustainable communities. Our services – environmental, sustainability, economic development incentives, and construction loan consulting – are tailored to the needs of each of our clients. We solve problems and deliver value to projects of any size, anywhere, and we empower our people to engage, at work and in our communities, to make a difference. We succeed because our clients and communities succeed. Call us at 800-985-7633 for help with practical solutions.

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