MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

1999 Regular Session

To: Environment Prot, Cons and Water Res

By: Senator(s) Dearing

Senate Bill 2281

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 49-17-407, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION FEE ON MOTOR FUEL; PROVIDES FOR THE DEPOSIT OF SUCH FEES INTO THE GROUNDWATER PROTECTION TRUST FUND; AND PROVIDES FOR THE DISBURSEMENT OF SUCH FUNDS BY REMOVING THE REPEALER ON SUCH SECTION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

SECTION 1. Section 49-17-407, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

49-17-407. (1) (a) An environmental protection fee of Four-tenths of One Cent (4/10 of 1) per gallon is hereby levied upon any bonded distributor, as defined by Sections 49-17-401 through 49-17-433, who sells or delivers motor fuels to a retailer or user in this state.

(b) Every person, other than a bonded distributor, who shall purchase or acquire motor fuels within this state on which the environmental protection fee has not accrued, shall be liable for the environmental protection fee.

(c) The environmental protection fee shall be imposed only one (1) time on motor fuels sold in the state.

(d) The environmental protection fee shall be collected by the State Tax Commission and shall be designated separately from the excise taxes on fuels.

(e) Any person liable for the environmental protection fee shall be subject to the same requirements and penalties as distributors under the provisions of Section 27-55-301 et seq.

(f) Any person liable for the environmental protection fee shall file a report and remit any fees due at the same time provided for filing reports under Section 27-55-319 on forms prescribed by the State Tax Commission.

(g) The State Tax Commission is hereby authorized and empowered to promulgate all rules and regulations necessary for the administration of the environmental protection fee.

(2) (a) On or before the fifteenth day of each month the environmental protection fees collected during the previous month shall be deposited into the Mississippi Groundwater Protection Trust Fund established in Section 49-17-405. When the unobligated balance in the fund reaches or exceeds Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00), the administrator of the fund shall notify in writing the State Tax Commission no later than the twenty-fifth day of the month to abate the environmental protection fee. The abatement shall become effective on the last day of the month succeeding the month in which such notice was given. All environmental protection fees accrued shall be reported and paid.

(b) When the fund balance is reduced below Six Million Dollars ($6,000,000.00), the fee shall again be imposed at the rate of Four-tenths of One Cent (4/10 of 1) per gallon until such time as the fund shall reach or exceed Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00). The administrator of the fund shall notify, no later than the twenty-fifth day of the month, the State Tax Commission to reimpose the environmental protection fee. The imposition of the fee shall become effective on the first day of the second month succeeding the month in which the notice to reimpose the fee was given.

(3) This fund shall be used for the purposes set forth in Sections 49-17-401 through 49-17-435 and for no other governmental purposes, nor shall any portion hereof ever be available to borrow from by any branch of government; it being the intent of the Legislature that this fund and its increments shall remain intact and inviolate. Any interest earned on monies in this fund shall remain in this fund.

(4) Monies held in the fund established under Sections 49-17-401 through 49-17-435 shall be used only at an active site and shall be disbursed in accordance with the commission requirements and as follows:

(a) Payments shall be made to any third party who brings a third-party claim against any owner of an underground storage tank and the commission as trustee of the Mississippi Groundwater Protection Trust Fund and who obtains a final judgment in such action which is valid and enforceable in this state against such parties. Payment shall be paid to the third party upon filing by such party an application with the department attaching the original or a certified copy of the final judgment.

(b) Payments shall be made in reasonable amounts to approved response action contractors and other parties involved in the site study and cleanup. Payment shall be made to the party incurring the costs by filing of a sworn application with the department indicating the fair and reasonable value of the costs of site rehabilitation, subject to the regulations and limitations as set by the department.

(5) Payments from the fund are limited as follows:

(a) For cleanup purposes, a maximum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) may be disbursed from the fund for any one (1) site, per confirmed release occurrence.

(b) For third-party judgments, a maximum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) may be disbursed from the fund for any one (1) site, per confirmed release occurrence.

(c) Nothing in Sections 49-17-401 through 49-17-435 shall establish or create any liability or responsibility on the part of the department or the State of Mississippi to pay any cleanup costs or third-party claims if the fund created herein is insufficient to do so.

(6) Monies held in the fund established under Sections 49-17-401 through 49-17-435 shall not be used for purchases of equipment needed to assist in cleanup operations.

(7) Nothing in Sections 49-17-401 through 49-17-435 shall serve to limit any recovery against an owner of an underground storage tank in excess of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00).

(8) Substantial compliance shall in no way be construed to be an absolute defense to civil liability.

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SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.