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Environmental Quality Restricted Account

What is the EQRA?

The Environmental Quality Restricted Account (EQRA) is a restricted account put in statute (19-1-108) in 1996 to provide revenue for regulation of solid, hazardous, and radioactive waste. It is funded through disposal fees paid by operators of commercial solid, hazardous, and radioactive waste facilities and municipal solid waste landfills.

What Goes Into the EQRA?

  • Hazardous Waste Fees
  • Mixed Waste Fees
  • Solid Waste Fees
    • Annual Municipal or County Landfill Facility Tiered Fee
    • Construction and Demolition Waste to commercial facilities
    • Industrial Waste to commercial facilities
    • Solid Waste to commercial facilities
    • Industrial Waste to transfer station or recycling center to solid waste facility not subject to the fee
    • Construction and Demolition Waste to transfer station or recycling center to solid waste facility not subject to the fee
    • Solid waste to transfer station or recycling center to solid waste facility not subject to the fee
  • PCB Fees
  • Radioactive Waste Fees
  • Radioactive Waste Generator Site Access Permit (annual permit)
    • Generators
    • Brokers
  • Uranium Mill Tailings Fees
  • Interest Income

What Does the EQRA Pay For?

  • Transfer to General Fund ($400,000 per year)
  • Payments to counties hosting hazardous waste facilities (10% of hazardous waste fees collected
  • DEQ Programs for oversight of waste management in the state
    • Entire Hazardous Waste program
    • Entire Solid Waste program
    • Radiation Control low-level waste program
    • Radiation Control uranium mill tailings program
    • Administrative costs
  • Transfer to Hazardous Substances Mitigation Fund ($400,000/year)—provides required 10% state match for Superfund projects. This is dependent on the amount of money in the fund.

What is the Current State of the EQRA?

  • The framers of the EQRA recognized that waste volumes from waste facilities would fluctuate over periods of time. UCA 19-1-108 (5) established that "In order to stabilize funding for the radiation program and the solid and hazardous waste control program, the Legislature shall in years of excess revenues reserve in the restricted account sufficient monies to meet departmental needs in years of projected shortages."
  • Until recently, the EQRA has provided a sufficient source of funding to account for fluctuations in waste volumes.
  • By FY06, the fund had sufficient excess funds to combat the beginning and continuation of a significant downturn in waste volumes until FY09. At the end of FY09, the fund balance to begin the current fiscal year (FY10) was down to $30,000. Revenues projected to be in the range of $5.6 million for FY09 came in at $4.5 million.
  • In FY10, the Department took independent action to shore up the fund. This included a combination of requesting diversion of monies from other accounts, carryover monies, and transfer of staff to other accounts for FY10. This was a one-time action that cannot be sustained.

What is Being Done to Address the Situation?

  • A Stakeholder's Group was established in May 2009 to help the Department find solutions to this problem.

Who Were the Stakeholders that were Invited to Participate in the Process?

  • EnergySolutions, commercial radioactive waste facility, Clive facility
  • Clean Harbors, commercial hazardous waste facilities, Aragonite and Grassy Mountain facilities
  • Republic/Allied Waste, commercial non hazardous waste facilities, ECDC and Wasatch Regional facilities
  • Municipal Landfills*
  • Nielson Construction
  • Rio Tinto/Kennecott Utah Copper
  • Utah Manufacturer's Association
  • Utah Mining Association
  • Parsons, Behle, and Latimer
  • Governor's Office of Planning and Budget
  • Legislative Fiscal Analyst Office
  • Chapman and Cutler
  • Tooele County Health Department
  • Tooele County Commission
  • Utah Attorney General's Office
  • State Representative Jim Gowans
  • State Representative Ronda Menlove
  • State Senator Kevin Van Tassel
  • Utah Department of Environmental Quality

    * Several municipal/county landfill operators participated in the meetings of the Stakeholder group including Salt Lake County, Wasatch Integrated, Trans-Jordan, and Logan City. The Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control held invited all municipal/county solid waste facilities to participate in a meeting on September 30, 2009.

Four formal meetings of the EQRA Stakeholder Group were held between May and October, 2009. Meetings were held with individual sectors (radioactive waste, hazardous waste, commercial solid waste, municipal/county solid waste) as well.

Meeting #1

Meeting #2

Meeting #3

Meeting #4

The Group established an agreement in principle document on key EQRA issues, EQRA Stakeholder Agreements in Principle, October 8, 2009. Legislation was introduced and passed during the 2010 General Session.

This legislation addressed the shortfall in a number of ways:

  1. Modified some disbursements allowed to come out of EQRA.
  2. Provided an annual report to the Legislature Interim Committee concerning the health of EQRA.
  3. Capped the amount of excess revenue in the fund.
  4. Increased fees, now in statute, on solid, hazardous, and radioactive wastes.
  5. At the end of one year, directed the Department to put radioactive waste and PCB disposal fees in the DEQ fee schedule.
  6. Reduced the fees for remediation waste.

What are the Consequences of Insufficient Funding?

  • Reduction in Force within DEQ (DWMRC, EDO and DRC)
    • Jeopardizes authorization, federal grants
    • Less timely issuance of permits, modifications, technical assistance, plan reviews
    • Less oversight, including independent sampling at commercial facilities
    • Reduction or elimination of important programs
    • Reduced Staff Training
    • Reduced Small business compliance assistance
    • Less oversight on corrective action, clean ups
  • Inability to fund Superfund match

For More Information, Please Contact

Rusty Lundberg
Director, Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control
(801) 536-4257

Scott Anderson
Director, Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control
(801) 536-0200