Bill Would End W. Pa. 'Summer Gas' Requirement

Lawmaker calls rule a "hidden tax"

Published in CSP Daily News

Elder Vogel Jr.

PITTSBURGH -- Legislation eliminating statutory requirements for low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) gasoline in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties in western Pennsylvania during the summer months received final legislative approval on May 7 and is headed to Governor Tom Corbett for his signature and enactment into law, according to State Senator Elder Vogel Jr. (R), prime sponsor of the measure.

Vogel called the requirement a "hidden tax" that drives up the costs of gasoline for Keystone State motorists in the region.

This "summer gas" is routinely more expensive than gasoline sold in the rest of Pennsylvania and also in neighboring Ohio and West Virginia.

"I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the Senate and House for this bill that will eliminate an unfair and costly regulation on the people of western Pennsylvania," said Senator Vogel. "Basically, the RVP regulation is nothing more than a hidden tax, not only at the pump, but also on goods and services. Currently, the people in a seven-county area of western Pennsylvania are forced to pay at least 10 to 15 cents more per gallon for gas than those in neighboring counties and just across the border in Ohio."

Since 1999, the state Department of Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have required that gasoline sold between May 1 and Sept. 15 in the seven-county Greater Pittsburgh area have a RVP of 7.8psi. Regular gasoline has an RVP of 9.0.

The bill, Senate Bill 1037, requires the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to start the process for amending the State Air Quality Implementation Plan (SIP) within 60 days of the effective date of the act. Once the U.S. EPA approves the amended SIP, the bill directs the Environmental Quality Board to adopt a regulation eliminating the low-RVP gasoline requirement in western Pennsylvania. There is no set schedule for EPA to consider SIP amendments and it may take up to 18 additional months to adopt regulations after EPA approval to eliminate the summer gasoline requirement so it may take some time before any changes can be made, said a report by NorthcentralPA.com.

However, "they want to get rid of RVP, and they've done the legislation to get rid of it, but to do that they have to come up with something else," Superior Petroleum's Don Bowers told CBS Pittsburgh. Specifically, that something needs to be an alternative method to make sure air quality does not suffer when RVP gasoline goes away.

"We're looking at at least a year and a half, if not two or three or four years before the state comes up with anything," Bowers said.

Corbett plans to sign the bill once it hits his desk, the report said.