EPA Phasing Out Vapor Recovery at Pump

With widespread use of onboard systems, Stage II no longer effective

Published in CSP Daily News

WASHINGTON-- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the systems used at gas station pumps to capture harmful gasoline vapors while refueling cars can be phased out. Modern vehicles are equipped to capture those emissions. 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, it said.

Onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) for capturing gasoline vapor when gasoline-powered vehicles are refueled is in widespread use throughout the highway motor vehicle fleet.

The EPA also is waiving the requirement that current and former ozone nonattainment areas classified as "serious" and above must implement Stage II vapor recovery systems on gasoline pumps. Given the widespread use of ORVR, Stage II control systems now provide increasingly less air pollution reduction beyond what is provided by ORVR and therefore are increasing less cost-effective.

Beginning later this year, states may begin the process of phasing out vapor recovery systems at the pump since approximately 70% of all vehicles are equipped with onboard systems that capture these vapors. This final rule will ensure that air quality and public health are protected while potentially saving the approximately 31,000 affected gas stations located in mostly urban areas more than $3,000 each year when fully implemented.

Since 1994, gas stations in areas that do not meet certain air quality standards 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 ORVR technologies in 1998, making gas stations' systems increasingly redundant. Since 2006, all new automobiles and light trucks (pickups, vans and SUVs) are equipped with ORVR systems.

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

"EPA's action responds to comments SIGMA filed with the agency and is a significant victory for fuel marketers. SIGMA counsel worked actively with EPA to educate them on this issue and to advocate updating the Clean Air Act to allow the removal of at-the-pump vapor recovery systems--which the May 10th final rule does," the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America said in a news bulletin to its members.

Click here to view the final rule.

And click here to view a fact sheet titled "Final Rule Determining Widespread Use of Onboard Refueling Vapor Recovery & Waiver of Stage II Requirements."