North Carolina legislators are considering easing the rules on leaking underground gas storage tanks that represent a half-billion-dollar problem.
A state Senate committee on Thursday backed a bill that cuts back on environmental rules intended to protect neighbors and eases the costs on gas station owners and other businesses.
Lawmakers don't yet know the cost of the proposed changes to a state storage tank cleanup fund that uses money from gasoline taxes and fees on operators.
The Legislature's evaluation division reported that the generation-long state program to clean leaking gasoline and oil tanks could take another 25 years and cost another half-billion dollars before the pollution is collected.
North Carolina has spent the past quarter-century cleaning up nearly 11,000 commercial tank leaks, but more than 6,000 remain.