EPA Drops Gas Station Vapor Recovery Regulation


Beginning later this year, states may begin phasing out vapor recovery systems at the pump.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that vapor recovery systems used at gas station pumps to capture harmful emissions while refueling cars can be phased out since most vehicles are now equipped to capture those emissions.

In an election year where all federal agencies are incorporating political talking points from the ruling party into their releases, EPA claimed this final rule is part of the Obama Administration’s initiative to ensure that regulations protect public health and the environment without being unnecessarily burdensome to American businesses. Significantly, no health or environmental effect data were provided in the EPA release.

Under the revised regulation, beginning later this year, states may begin  phasing out vapor recovery systems at the pump since approximately 70% of all vehicles are equipped with on-board systems that capture these vapors.

EPA estimates savings of about $3,000 annually for 31,000 affected gas stations located in mostly urban areas. Since 1994, gas stations in areas that do not meet certain air quality standards have been required to use vapor recovery systems. Big oil successfully fought off stiffer requirements, and successfully lobbied that individual cars be equipped with the systems, something that has not been completely accomplished decades later. In a blatant display of money over common sense – all gas stations could have been equipped with vapor recovery in a short period of time – harmful fumes continued to be released into the atmosphere.

Automobile manufacturers began installing onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) technologies in 1998.Since 2006, all new automobiles and light pickups, vans and SUVs are equipped with ORVR systems.

EPA says that gasoline vapors from refueling, if allowed to escape, can contribute significantly to ground-level ozone, sometimes called smog, as well as to other types of harmful air pollution. Breathing air containing high levels of smog can reduce lung function and increase respiratory symptoms, aggravating asthma or other respiratory conditions and other health conditions. Gasoline vapors also contain toxic air pollutants associated with a variety of health threats.

This final rule responds to public comments on EPA’s July 2011 proposal, and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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One Response to EPA Drops Gas Station Vapor Recovery Regulation

  1. Nick says:

    The ruling is total bullshit. It’s obviously unconscionable to mandate automakers to have vapor recovery when putting it at the pump would be safer, less expensive and more environmentally responsible.

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