(1) FINDINGS.—The Legislature declares that the financial resources of the state in the form of a bond trust fund, the limits of which are in excess of limits available to most operators, should be available to provide the Department of Environmental Protection the surety for any cleanup and remedial action for operations which are not conducted in a safe and environmentally compatible manner.
(2) INTENT AND PURPOSE.—It is the intent of the Legislature that the Minerals Trust Fund serve as a repository for funds which will enable the Department of Environmental Protection to respond without delay to incidents which affect safety or threaten to cause environmental damage or contamination as a result of incidents involving petroleum exploration and production activities and which are not otherwise handled in a timely manner by the operator or permittee. The useful life of facilities used to produce oil and natural gas in the state can be from 15 to 40 years and it is the Legislature’s intent that safe and environmentally compatible operations be conducted for the economic life of any well, field, or production facility. It is the further intent of the Legislature that this trust fund make available immediately to the department funds sufficient to correct violations such as an operator’s failure to adequately plug, abandon, or restore production sites or other test sites and facilities after operations cease, if the permittee or operator cannot or will not correct the violations within a reasonable time. Furthermore, it is the Legislature’s intent that if an amount in excess of the funds on deposit in the trust fund is needed for remedial action, money from the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund be made available in the form of a temporary transfer of funds. The temporary transfer shall be repaid as soon as possible after the department obtains penalties, judgments, recoveries, or reimbursements.
(3) USES.— (a) When the department has reason to believe that incidents of contamination related to the conduct of operations, including, but not limited to, drilling of exploratory or production wells, operation and maintenance of producing wells, pressure maintenance wells, or disposal wells, and related gathering lines, may pose a threat to the environment or the public health, safety, or welfare, or if the permittee, owner, or operator of such facility does not take immediate remedial or other approved corrective action, the department shall obligate moneys available from fees collected and deposited pursuant to subsection (4) in the trust fund to provide for:
1. Prompt investigation and assessment of surface or underground contamination or other permit violations;
2. Prompt remedial action to repair, replace, or restore to a safe condition test sites, wells, and facilities at the affected site or location;
3. Rehabilitation of contamination at sites, which rehabilitation shall include cleanup of contaminated soils, groundwater, and surface waters to minimize environmental damage;
4. Maintenance and monitoring of sites or facilities that have been repaired, replaced, or restored;
5. Inspection and supervision of activities described in this section;
6. Payment of expenses incurred by the department in its efforts to obtain from responsible parties the payment or recovery of reasonable costs resulting from activities described in this section; or
7. Payment of any other reasonable costs of administration.
(b) The department may also use moneys from the trust fund to conduct routine inspections of exploratory or production wells, pressure maintenance wells, disposal wells, and related gathering lines.
(4) FUNDING.—There shall be deposited in the Minerals Trust Fund:
(b) All penalties, judgments, recoveries, reimbursements, and other fees and charges related to the implementation of this section.
(c) Any other funds required to be deposited in the trust fund under provisions of law.
If moneys on deposit in the trust fund are not sufficient to satisfy the needed remedial or corrective action, and if the responsible party does not take remedial and corrective action in a timely manner or if a catastrophic event occurs, a temporary transfer of the required amount, or a maximum of $10 million, from the Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund pursuant to s. 376.11(6)(j) is authorized. The Florida Coastal Protection Trust Fund shall be reimbursed immediately upon deposit into the Minerals Trust Fund of moneys referred to in paragraph (b).
(5) RECOVERY.—The department shall recover to the use of the trust fund from the permittee for any facilities for petroleum exploration or production, petroleum gathering, or other exploration or production activities all sums expended from the trust fund pursuant to this section. Requests for reimbursement to the trust fund for such costs, if not paid within 120 days after demand, shall be turned over to the Department of Legal Affairs for collection.
(6) INVESTMENTS; INTEREST.—Moneys in the trust fund which are not needed currently to meet the obligations of the department in the exercise of its responsibilities under this section shall be deposited with the Chief Financial Officer to the credit of the trust fund and may be invested as provided by law.