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You might see cheaper prices at the pump this summer in Pennsylvania!

Posted: 07/10/2012
Services: Environmental

New law eliminates Stage II vapor recovery systems and requires PA DEP to meet with gasoline retailers and other interested entities to reevaluate state summer gasoline requirements.

On July 5, 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 135 of 2012 (Senate Bill 1386), which repealed a section of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act that required gas stations to install and maintain Stage II vapor recovery systems on fuel pumps. Stage II vapor recovery systems capture gasoline vapors that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere during refueling. These systems are now unnecessary because manufacturers equip new automobiles with onboard vapor recovery systems. The repeal was immediately effective.

The purpose of the repeal is to alleviate gas stations' financial burden of installing and maintaining Stage II vapor recovery systems as those systems no longer are needed to control vapor emissions when vehicles are fueled. Specifically, Act 135 relieves gas stations in the following southwestern and southeastern counties of Pennsylvania from installing Stage II vapor recovery systems: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Delaware, Fayette, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Washington, and Westmoreland.

In addition, Act 135 requires the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reevaluate the state's summer gasoline requirements. Under the new law, DEP must conduct meetings with impacted organizations including gasoline retailers, pipeline owners, local governments, businesses, and other interested entities. DEP must regularly provide the legislature with evaluation updates. DEP is required to initiate this review by September 3, 2012, and provide updates to the Legislature by early October.

The purpose of the reevaluation is for DEP to determine whether Pennsylvania must continue to require gas stations to sell low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) gasoline during summer months to comply with the Federal Clean Air Act. Gasoline emits volatile organic compounds into the air when it evaporates. Low RVP gasoline is less likely to evaporate during the hot summer months than regular gasoline. However, low RVP gasoline is more expensive to produce and in shorter supply than regular gasoline. If a supply disruption occurs, then Act 135 also requires the governor to request the Environmental Protection Agency to waive Pennsylvania's summer gasoline requirements.

Why is Act 135 important?

Pennsylvanians ought to see some gasoline cost savings as a result of the repeal of the requirement for gasoline stations to maintain duplicative Stage II vapor recovery systems. Pennsylvania gas stations will benefit from no longer having to install and maintain costly Stage II recovery systems. Summer gasoline laws have caused Pennsylvania to experience gasoline shortages and price increases during previous summers. Act 135 gives Pennsylvania businesses a voice in determining how the state will move forward to address the question of the necessity of maintaining low RVP gasoline.

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