The RUST program in California, which has existed since 1989, got an extension thanks to the California state legislature. Originally scheduled to sunset in 2016, the state’s legislature appropriated an additional “$8 million in funding to recapitalize the RUST fund and a tweak to prioritize loans over grants made effective on Jan. 1. The program will now sunset in 2022,” reported the North Bay Business Journal.
The acronym RUST stands for “Replacing, Removing or Upgrading Underground Storage Tanks.” Essentially, the program offers financial assistance to businesses that need to either replace, remove, or upgrade underground storage tanks on their premises in order to meet the state’s regulations. Loans of up to $750,000 are available for single borrowers, at 10 or 20-year terms with fixed rates. Interest rates were recently increased to help sustain the program, but are still affordable at around 2%. Borrowers with smaller businesses, such as small independent gas stations, are eligible for grant funds of up to $50,000.
The program’s main goal is to ensure that all of the state’s underground storage tanks are up to current standards, as leaking storage tanks can do significant damage to water and air quality. However, the program is also benefiting the state in other ways, especially its rural communities. In many such communities, small gas stations are often forced to shut down when they can’t comply with new regulations, leaving residents stranded without a local source for fuel. The financial assistance from RUST gives them the opportunity to comply with regulations without having to close down.