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House OKs bill imposing underground storage fees

House OKs bill imposing underground storage fees
Posted at 3:30 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 17:30:12-05

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The Idaho House on Wednesday approved a bill stipulating new fees for underground oil and gas storage tanks, despite strong opposition from conservative lawmakers wary of federal government overreach.

Senate Bill 1244 would impose a new $100 fee on each underground storage unit to help the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality regulate such facilities. Democratic Rep. Mat Erpelding, of Boise, says if the measure isn't adopted the state is at risk of the federal government taking over the program.

The bill passed the Senate unopposed earlier this session. However, the proposal met resistance from House Republicans who argued the bill exemplifies overreach of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- a common foe among Idaho's more conservative lawmakers.

Republican Rep. Gayle Batt, of Wilder, says the state agency should protect its citizens from such overreach instead of imposing EPA-backed regulations.

The bill passed on a 39-29 vote and now seeks the approval of Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter.