Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
August 2005
Article Comm 5 and 47 Code Changes in the Environmental and Regulatory Services Division (ERS)

As reported in earlier issues of this newsletter, a thorough update is currently underway in the ERS Division for the Wisconsin Administrative Code chapters that address the Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award (PECFA) program. This code update is expected to affect site investigation and cleanup activities at about 4,500 remaining sites where petroleum-product discharges have occurred. This program currently issues $5 million to $6 million each month in reimbursements to site owners and operators for these investigation and cleanup activities.

The major elements of the code update consist of:

(1) Codifying the Department's competitive public bidding process, and applying it to both existing and newly reported sites, in a prioritized manner that addresses the highest and most costly threats to human health and the environment first; and

(2) Establishing a usual and customary (U&C) cost schedule, which will control costs for most of the work not covered by the public bidding process, such as for low-cost sites. Use of both the public bidding process and the U&C cost schedule is required by the Wisconsin Statutes.

On July 20th, the Division met with its Comm 47 Code Advisory Committee and presented a comprehensive response to the nearly 100 pages of testimony we received in conjunction with the Public Hearing we held last year on our proposed rule changes.

This response included numerous substantive revisions to the proposed rules, particularly in the portions that address the U&C cost schedule. Various maximum reimbursement rates on the schedule were adjusted, and the descriptions and other guidance for using the schedule were significantly refined and improved.

We also informed the Advisory Committee that we are planning to conduct a series of training sessions at strategic locations throughout the State, to help the affected users of the rules adjust to the changes prior to our planned effective date of January 1, 2006.

The Advisory Committee accepted the changes that we made in response to the Hearing testimony, and the Committee suggested several additional improvements as well.

Further information on the efforts and activities associated with this code update is available at the following Web sites:

At the Commerce home page, select the link to Petroleum & Tanks. From there, select the link to Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award (PECFA). At the PECFA site, under News and Legislative Updates, links are available for the Announcement of Rule Changes - which has links to the proposed changes that were presented at the public Hearing in July 2004 - and for the COMM 47 Future Code Advisory Committee Meetings and Reports & Agenda.

As this code update progresses further through the rule promulgation process, these Web sites will be updated accordingly, such as to include the rules in final draft form and supporting documentation, which we plan to submit to legislative review later this year.

--Berni Mattsson

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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