DEQ Streamlines Applications For Underground Storage Tanks Solicits Comments On A Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment

HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has prepared a draft programmatic environmental assessment (EA) for the installation of regulated underground storage tanks (USTs) at new facility locations and is accepting public comment during the next 30 days.

The Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and implementing rules define programmatic review as an analysis of potential environmental impacts resulting from related actions, programs, or policies. This type of review is appropriate for repetitive state actions that have similar impacts or where each proposed action is similar in nature. MEPA gives agencies discretion to determine when programmatic review is warranted for a series of actions.

Historically, the UST program has prepared individual EAs for each new proposed facility. Based on decades of experience permitting similar facilities, DEQ is proposing to replace case-by-case reviews with the programmatic EA for applicable new proposed facility locations. Because potential impacts resulting from tank installations are similar across Montana, a programmatic EA is a more efficient way to examine the proposed action, alternatives, and impacts common to most tank installations.

If the programmatic EA is finalized, DEQ will review applications from owners or operators proposing tank installations at new facilities to determine if the project falls within the bounds of the programmatic EA. If it does, DEQ would publish a categorical exclusion alongside the application for a public review period. DEQ would then consider public input and make a final permitting decision. The programmatic EA will allow for more efficient, thorough, and targeted reviews of proposed new facilities. It will also provide for better communication and a more efficient process between owners and regulators.

Montana DEQ is taking comments on the draft programmatic EA for 30 days from May 6 to June 4. The type of comments DEQ is seeking would highlight any missed analysis in the programmatic EA or issues related to the potential impacts from an underground storage tank during construction or operation. The final programmatic EA would include responses to public comments and identify any changes made based on public comments.

To view the draft programmatic EA or learn how to submit comments, please visit DEQ’s website at:


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