WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced earlier this week the phasing out of gas station pump systems that capture gasoline vapors while refueling. In 1998, automobile manufacturers began installing onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) technologies, as required by the Clean Air Act. That Act stipulates that once these systems are in "widespread use," the requirement to implement Stage 2 at retail would be eliminated.
The EPA€™s decision is a reflection of the 70% of vehicles today that are equipped to capture those emissions. Stations may begin phasing out the vapor recovery systems immediately. The rule is expected to save the approximately 31,000 affected gas stations more than $3,000 each year when fully implemented.
The ruling addresses a number of the concerns previously expressed by NACS and other retailer representatives, among them:
- The EPA has accelerated the date at which vehicles equipped with onboard vapor recovery equipment will be considered in "widespread use," thus eliminating the federal requirement for retailers to install and operate Stage 2 vapor recovery systems.
- Instead of the proposed date of June 30, 2013, the designation takes effect immediately. As such, states can begin revising their regulations to eliminate Stage 2 requirements from their clean air implementation plans. (States that include Stage 2 in these plans must amend their plans to remove the requirement.)
- NACS has raised concerns regarding a limitation that would prevent states in the ozone transport region (stretching from Virginia to Maine) from eliminating Stage 2. NACS is evaluating the EPA€™s final rule closely but the agency appears to have adopted some of NACS€™ suggestions in this regard.