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EPA Proposes Criteria to Waive Federal Requirements for Capturing Gasoline Vapors When Refueling Vehicles/Part of Obama Administration’s initiative to remove burdensome regulations

Release Date: 07/11/2011
Contact Information: Enesta Jones, jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing a proposal under the Clean Air Act that would waive requirements for systems used at gas station pumps to capture potentially harmful gasoline vapors while refueling cars. The proposal is part of the Obama Administration’s initiative to review outdated and redundant rules and ensure that regulations are beneficial without being unnecessarily burdensome to American businesses.
Beginning in 2013, states that meet the new criteria would have the option to do away with vapor recovery systems at the pump since an estimated 70 percent of all vehicles will be equipped by then with on-board systems that capture these vapors. The result of the proposal would be the continued protection of air quality and public health while potentially saving affected gas stations more than $3,000 annually.

Since 1994, gas stations in certain areas have been required to use gasoline vapor recovery systems. The systems capture fumes that escape from gasoline tanks during refueling. However, as required by the Clean Air Act, automobile manufacturers began installing onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) technologies in 1998, making gas stations’ systems redundant. Since 2006, all new automobiles and light trucks (pickups, vans, and SUVs) are equipped with ORVR.

Vapor emissions 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. Ground-level ozone can cause acute respiratory problems, aggravated asthma, temporary decreases in lung capacity in healthy adults and inflammation of lung tissue. Children and the elderly are most at risk. Gasoline vapors also contain toxic air pollutants associated with a variety of health threats.

The Clean Air Act allows EPA to establish criteria for waiving federal requirements for vapor recovery systems on gasoline pumps when ORVR systems are widely available in the vehicle fleet. EPA is proposing to establish June 30, 2013, as the date by which a sufficient portion of the vehicle fleet will be equipped with such technology. By that date, EPA projects that more than 70 percent of vehicles on the road will have ORVR technology.

EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/actions.html#impl