Hearing planned on underground gas tank leaks

An East Bay lawmaker will chair a hearing Wednesday in San Jose on progress toward cleaning up thousands of leaking underground tanks that pose environmental threats.

The Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee’s hearing will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium in the Santa Clara County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St.

“Cleaning up leaking gas station tanks and restoring abandoned sites is critical to our local economies and environmental safety,” committee chairman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, said in a news release. “We passed some important measures last year to fund clean-up efforts and this hearing will help us better address the challenges and impediments to restoring these sites in a timely way.”

The committee will hear testimony from the State Water Resources Control Board; an official from Robinson Oil (Rotten Robbie); environmental clean-up firms; Santa Clara, Alameda, Calaveras and Merced county environmental health officials; and the California Independent Oil Marketers Association, among others.

Gov. Jerry Brown last month signed a pair of related bills authored by Wieckowski and Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita. Wieckowski’s AB 291 extended for two more years a temporary petroleum storage fee that owners of underground storage tanks must pay; the fee currently generates about $270 million per year, used to reimburse underground tank owners who clean up leaks. Smyth’s AB 358 reformed the reporting and review process for such clean-ups.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.