CARB Plans Could Cost Gas Operators

More than half the states in the nation require petroleum marketers to employ vapor recovery systems at the fuel island to satisfy requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Historically all states except Missouri have required service station owners to use Stage II vapor recovery equipment certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). To meet its air quality needs and to satisfy a court order, CARB recently adopted significant modifications to its gasoline vapor recovery program, known as Enhanced Vapor Recovery (EVR).

The move could force many petroleum operators to invest thousands of dollars to upgrade their equipment for environmental safeguards at the pump as Stage II systems certified under the previous (April 1996) CARB certification are decertified and phased out over the next several years.

The investment required of retailers will rest with each state. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed that all states should "have the discretion to continue to allow use of their current Stage II systems certified under CARB certification procedures effective on or before March 31, 2001" as long as they meet their State Implementation Plans (SIP). In short, as far as the federal government is concerned, states will have the option of using existing Stage II equipment, Enhanced Vapor Recovery equipment or a combination of the two.

States currently using Stage II vapor recovery equipment face a dilemma. For one, CARB said it does not plan to provide support activities for systems certified under the previous procedures.

And with the federal government keeping its hands out of the picture, states face the quandary of whether to adopt the new California regulations, keep their existing requirements or require some combination of the two. And what would the federal EPA demand of the states to meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act?

To answer those questions, the Petroleum Equipment Institute recently concluded a state-by-state survey to determine if the states will maintain their existing Stage I/II programs, implement portions of the California EVR program or adopt the entire California EVR program. This is what we found.

So far, only California plans to follow CARB's EVR requirements.

Nine states (Arizona, New Jersey, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Virginia) are currently reviewing their options. New Jersey and Indiana plan to make a decision by the end of this year. The other states will make their decision later.

Four states (Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts and New Hampshire) have either changed their rules or plan to permit equipment certified by CARB under the 1996 test procedures to be used even after CARB has decertified the equipment.

Five states (Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida) said they will reject CARB's new EVR rules and will permit CARB decertified equipment to be used. They will not, however, amend their rules or plan to permit decertified equipment to be used.

Three states don't fit into any of the previously mentioned groupings. Missouri will require CARB EVR on all new systems and equipment but isn't sure what modules it will adopt. Rhode Island will permit equipment either certified under CARB's 1996 procedure or procedures adopted by CARB subsequent to 1996. In Nevada, decisions are being made on the county level. For instance, Clark County has adopted CARB's Modules 1, 2 and 4, while Washoe County is currently evaluating potential EVR regulations.

Unfortunately, we were unable to learn the intentions of six states — Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Tennessee and Washington — or the District of Columbia. To learn more, go to Summaries are available of each state's vapor recovery program.
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