New California pump rules squeeze small station owners out

posted at 6:30 pm on January 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When government tries to convince people that their latest regulations won’t be any problem at all, keep this story in mind.  California will force gas stations to replace all of their pumps in favor of newer models that marginally improve the capture of gas vapor at the nozzle.  The improvements will cost tens of thousands of dollars per station, and that may force hundreds of independents out of business:

Dozens, and potentially hundreds, of gas stations around California are choosing to shut down rather than comply with a state mandate that would require owners to purchase new equipment to reduce vapor emissions at the pump.

The requirement, known as Phase II in the state’s Enhanced Vapor Recovery Program, is set to go into effect in April. It requires gas station owners to individually purchase tens of thousands of dollars of equipment designed to prevent harmful vapors from escaping into the air when gasoline is pumped.

But smaller retailers say that the requirement puts an unfair burden on businesses that don’t sell enough gasoline to offset the extra cost – and that don’t contribute much to the problem in the  first place.

California says they’re overreacting.  Why, all they need to do is increase the price of gasoline:

“We do calculate the cost of compliance with the regulation as related to emissions,” Stanich said. “These costs could be recovered by raising gasoline prices by an average 0.68 cents per gallon.”

Well … that’s for the large chains.  For the others?

Lower-volume sellers would have to raise prices more to offset costs, he added.

Got that?  The big retailers can afford the required pumps because they only have to raise the cost of gasoline less than a cent a gallon.  However, smaller retailers will have to increase their prices more, making them less competitive and forcing them to lose business.  And what will that gain California?

April’s regulations promise to cut what are known as reactive organic gas emissions by 7 tons per day statewide, but opponents point to the fact that California produces 2,322 tons of such gases per day.

In other words, California will put dozens and perhaps hundreds of smaller retailers in order to reduce 0.0030146425495262704565030146425495 of the daily emissions in California.  Jobs will be lost, tax revenues reduced, and consumer choice restricted, and California thinks that’s worth a 0.3% reduction in organic gas vapor.  (via Instapundit and Autobloggreen)


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