Proposal Would Waive Requirements For Stage II Vapor Recovery Systems

Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed July 11 to waive requirements for ozone nonattainment areas to have vapor recovery systems at gas station pumps.

The move would save a typical gas station $3,277 annually, and the nationwide savings could be as much as $88 million a year if these systems, known as Stage II systems, are phased out, EPA said.

Specifically, the proposed rule would set June 30, 2013, as the date that onboard refueling vapor recovery systems are in widespread use.

Such a determination is significant because, once onboard systems are in widespread use, Section 202(a)(6) of the Clean Air Act allows the EPA administrator to waive requirements for states to implement Stage II systems at larger gasoline dispensing facilities in areas that are in serious, severe, and extreme nonattainment of the national ambient air quality standards for ozone.

States would have to revise their state implementation plans to remove the Stage II requirement.

EPA said the Stage II systems and the onboard systems, which are installed on vehicles, can be redundant. Stage II systems are distinguished from Stage I systems, which are not covered by the rule and are used for vapor recovery on transport tanker trucks.

The proposed rule, which EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed July 8, also would allow states to revise their state implementation plans to demonstrate widespread use of the onboard systems in their areas before June 30, 2013. EPA then could waive Stage II requirements earlier than 2013.

Widespread Use Determination Made

“This proposed rulemaking accomplishes the objectives of the Obama administration's initiative to review outdated rules and update them to ensure that they are still achieving the environmental benefits that they were intended to achieve,” EPA said in a fact sheet it released with the proposed rule.

By 2013, EPA said, 71.7 percent of vehicles will have onboard systems, 79.3 percent of gasoline will be dispensed into those vehicles, and the vehicles will account for 81.6 percent of vehicle miles traveled.

EPA said onboard systems' efficiency will be 77.7 percent in 2013.

“The EPA believes that this percentage of [onboard refueling vapor recovery] coverage (>75 percent) is substantial enough to inherently be viewed as ‘widespread' under any ordinary understanding of that term,” EPA said in a notice it intends to publish in an upcoming issue of the Federal Register.

Comments on the proposed rule by accessing http://www.regulations.gov and referencing Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-1076. Comments are due 60 days after the proposed rule's publication in the Federal Register.

By Jessica Coomes

The proposed rule on vapor recovery systems is available at http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/pdfs/20110711fr.pdf .

For more information, contact EPA's Lynn Dail at (919) 541-2363 or dail.lynn@epa.gov .