Wisconsin’s 2015-2017 budget will not include any funding for the state’s tank clean-up fund, Governor Scott Walker surprisingly announced on Sunday. The budget sent to him by the Wisconsin Senate included a planned sunset of the Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award (PECFA) reimbursement program to releases reported prior to July 1, 2017 and claims received prior to July 1, 2020.
Gov. Walker’s line-item veto, however, abruptly sped up the end of the cleanup program. Any tank owner with a current PECFA project must submit their reimbursement claim for their clean-up expenses by July 20, 2015 – a mere 8 days after the budget was signed into law. “The program has existed for a sufficient time that its primary purpose has been completed,” stated Gov. Walker.
PECFA was created in the late 1980s to help pay for the clean-up of contamination caused by leaking underground storage tanks (USTs) and aboveground storage tanks (ASTs). It is funded by a tax added to all petroleum products sold. It is unclear at this time what will happen to the remaining money in the PECFA fund once the final reimbursement claims are paid.
Any Wisconsin tank owner who has a release in the future will no longer be able to seek assistance from the State to handle the contamination. The environmental clean up requirements remain in place. This sudden end of the PECFA fund will hurt individuals and small business owners who lack the resources to respond adequately on their own to a leaking tank.
Over its 25+ year history, PECFA provided more than $1.5 billion in funding to help clean up more than 16,000 sites. As of September 2014, there were still more than 1,000 clean-ups in process throughout Wisconsin according to U.S. EPA data. Additionally, there are nearly 73,000 known tanks in use or temporarily out of service in the state – and possibly as many as 200,000 additional unregistered tanks.
Gov. Scott Walker’s budget message, veto summary
After Kerry Wood retired from the Chicago Cubs, he decided to open a state-of-the-art ballpark for Chicago Public League athletes and Chicago residents through his Wood Family Foundation. “Kerry Wood Cubs Field will be a special place for our community for years to come. Having been drafted out of high school, I know the importance of having a place to play. Keeping baseball alive in our city is something that is close to my heart. I’m excited for our kids to play under the lights and start their own dreams. Anything is possible,” Wood said.
Groundbreaking ceremony (Photography by Steve Green, Wood Family Foundation)
Unfortunately, the construction of the ballpark was halted abruptly in 2013 when contamination was discovered due to the site’s former use as a brickyard. After nearly a year of environmental testing and liaison with the Illinois EPA (IEPA), the project is back on track thanks to Governor Quinn agreeing to fund $2 million in clean-up costs.
“This project is a great example of the work we do every day to improve Illinois communities by cleaning up contaminated sites to benefit residents and young people,” IEPA Director Lisa Bonnett said.
Kerry Wood Cubs Field will be built on a property located at 3457 N. Rockwell St. The state’s investment, through the IEPA, will fund the removal of contaminated soil, followed by site grading and leveling.
The Chicago Cubs, Chicago Cubs Charities, Wood Family Foundation, City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and Turner Construction will together contribute an additional $5 million to complete the stadium project. When completed, Kerry Wood Cubs Field will have a capacity of 1,100 spectators. It will be owned and operated by the Chicago Park District and be used by Chicago public high school teams, recreational leagues, and the general public.
Artist rendering of Kerry Wood Cubs Field