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The Regional Review Team, which includes the UST Program Manager, staff representatives from UST program, and a Regional UST Attorney, is responsible for reviewing State program approval applications, working with the State to reach agreement on any outstanding issues, and recommending approval decisions to the Regional Administrator, through the appropriate Regional Division Director. Regions are not required to consult with OUST on recommended decisions unless the Region is planning not to approve a State program.

Review and discussion of States' laws regarding underground storage tanks should begin as the State is developing its application. The Regional Review Team will identify deficiencies in State laws as soon as possible so that States will have adequate time to make necessary legislative modifications and still receive timely program approval. As the first step in program approval, statutory and regulatory review assures the States of being able to develop an official program approval application with confidence. After review of the statutes and regulations the Region, following consultation with the Regional UST Attorney, should conduct a meeting with the States' Attorney General (or staff) to discuss any deficiencies found in the law. Some Regions may wish to have the Regional UST Attorneys take the lead in setting up such a meeting; this can be a Regional determination. Following this meeting, the Regions should inform the State of the Agency's concerns regarding unresolved issues.

As States proceed toward program approval, the Regions must provide on-going assistance, working closely with the States to ensure adequacy and completeness of the various components of the State's draft application for program approval. A thorough review of the various components of the draft application should begin in the Regions as soon as each is completed by the State. These pre-application reviews should be timely, with written comments forwarded to the State within three weeks from date of receipt. This process alerts the State very early to issues which could later cause a delay in review and approval of the official application.

Before the State application process began, OUST was responsible for determining national decision-making criteria for "no less stringent" and "adequate enforcement". Other Headquarters offices, such as the Office of General Counsel (OGC), the Office of Enforcement (OE), and the Office of Waste Programs Enforcement (OWPE), were also responsible for assisting OUST in this task. During the application review process, OUST, OGC, and OE serve as resources for the Regions to assist them upon request. Headquarters offices may make comments on applications but do not have a formal concurrence role with respect to the Regional Review Team recommendation.

Exhibit 3 displays the interaction between the Regional Review Team and the other participants in the review process. The following sections more fully describe the roles suggested for each of the participants.


Exhibit 3


Regional Review Team Members

Composition of the Regional Review Team will likely vary from Region to Region. Team members will necessarily reflect the UST staffing levels and Regional needs and priorities. We suggest that the team be comprised, for example, as follows: Regional UST Program Manager (Chairperson); Regional person representing UST enforcement; Regional person representing LUST Trust Fund policies; Regional person representing the UST program; and a Regional UST Attorney. Please note that in practice, one Regional person may be wearing several hats, e.g., UST enforcement, LUST Trust Fund, and UST program. In many Regions, the UST staff is responsible for UST enforcement. Some Regions may also wish to have a technical standards expert on the Review Team.

The following elaboration of the roles of the Regional Review Team members is meant to suggest one possible way in which the review process might be handled. The Regional Review Team should adopt specific procedures which best suits its particular organization.


State Applicant


Headquarters Offices

As described earlier, Headquarters offices have a major role to play in developing national decision criteria (i.e., the criteria Regions apply when evaluating State applications), but only a relatively minor role in implementation of these decision criteria during the review of individual State program applications.

OUST formed a project team to conduct a study on the State Program Approval process after the first complete State Program Approval applications were received, and to determine how improvements to the State Program Approval process could most effectively be made. The team concluded that there was little need to change the performance objectives; that major improvements could be realized by training Regional staff in procedures for developing State Program Approval applications with States and procedures for application review, and improving the lines of communication between OUST Headquarters and the Regional UST offices. Therefore,

-- OUST will continue to stress that program and application decisions should be made at the Regional level, wherever possible. Consultation between OUST Headquarters and the Regions should be kept informal; while Headquarters is always available to discuss issues and provide further information and guidance, decisions regarding State programs must ultimately be made by the Regions.

-- OUST will stress that the "no less stringent" objectives are the bottom line in the review of State Program Approval applications. Flexibility has already been built into these objectives; they are less specific than the Federal technical regulations and thus allow States a degree of latitude in structuring their programs. However, the objectives are performance standards that must be met fully for a State program to be approved. Flexibility is encouraged, but programs that do not meet the objectives cannot be approved.

-- OUST will identify a Headquarters contact person to act as a "clearinghouse" of information and advice who will process queries and requests for information from Regions using a consistent set of answers, procedures, and informational materials. This contact will ensure the accuracy and consistency of all information reaching the Regions from Headquarters, and document all discussions and information transmittals in order to keep track of what has been requested and what has been provided.

[ Directive 9650.12 Table of Contents ][ Chapter IV. ]

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