The Inland Protection Trust Fund (IPTF) is a trust fund that was developed by the Florida Legislature in 1985 to enable the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to protect Florida’s aquifer, the primary source of drinking water in the state. The trust is funded by an excise tax on petroleum and petroleum products produced or imported into the state. These taxes supply the funding mechanism for assessment and cleanup of petroleum sites via the Petroleum Restoration Program (PRP). There has historically been a lack of stability of funding flowing through the PRP due to diversion of money to other programs. In addition, the lack of travel during the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue as funds have dimension.
These breaks in funding are detrimental to the environment. Each time work at a petroleum contaminated site is suspended due to lack of funding (i.e increase in priority score), there is site specific potential for contaminants to migrate in both soil and groundwater. Once the funding score is lowered and sites come back into funding range, many sites must be reassessed and Remedial Action Plans (RAP) modified costing the state more in the long run. The reduction of funding often increases or prolongs additional site assessment or requires confirmation soil and groundwater sampling as environmental work is often time sensitive.
The reduction of funding negatively impacts business for environmental consultants and those subcontracted by them. Examples of those currently being affected includes drilling companies, analytical laboratories, surveyors, construction contractors, concrete companies, remedial equipment manufacturers, and materials suppliers. These businesses are often forced to either maintain their employees during these times, or lay them off, adding to the unemployment rate of the state.
To all of us affected by the program, we are somewhat used to the “rollercoaster” of funding of the IPTF. However, after an unfavorable year, the FDEP historically expedites efforts to get funds moving, sites being assessed and remediated, resulting in consultants and those subcontracted by them getting back to work. For the start of this fiscal year (2021-2022), this has not been the case.
After more than a nine-month standstill, Florida has restored funding for this fiscal year. According to the Florida Leads Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Budget, $125 Million has been appropriated for the IPTF. To ensure that Florida’s drinking water continues to be protected and that jobs are secure for thousands of environmental consultants and their subcontractors, the FDEP, Legislators, and Governor need to hear our voices and concerns and roll out new purchase orders under the PRP.
Orlando District Manager
Senior Environmental Scientist