Illinois budget crisis affecting fuel cleanup

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Federal regulators say the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency must start reimbursing work to pull leaking fuel tanks out of the ground or tell contractors cleaning up the hazards they are on their own.

It's another fallout from the state's 10-month budget standoff.

The Associated Press obtained a March 21 letter from the U.S. EPA that warns Illinois must use money in its Leaking Underground Storage Tank Fund to pay for cleanup. But the state lacks the spending authority.

State EPA spokeswoman Kim Biggs says there have been previous pay backlogs and the fund's $58 million is enough to cover $20 million in outstanding bills.

Without resolution, Illinois would lose permission to use the fund financed with fuel taxes. Companies working on 211 active cleanups would have to find different financing.