Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DEP Suspends Part Of Stage II Vapor Recovery Mandate, But The Action Differs From New Law

The Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday announced it will not enforce a requirement for new gas stations to install costly vapor recovery systems called Stage II.
Current regulations require facilities in about 1,600 gasoline-dispensing facilities in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bucks, Butler, Chester, Delaware, Fayette, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Washington and Westmoreland counties to maintain vapor recovery systems, which are attached to gas pump nozzles to siphon off fumes while pumping gasoline.
Because recent models of most vehicles include vapor recovery technology in the cars and trucks themselves, EPA is allowing states that can demonstrate widespread fleet turnover to remove from their State Implementation Plans Stage II vapor recovery requirements for gasoline-dispensing facilities once state regulations are repealed.
DEP’s announcement further said, “These so-called Stage II vapor recovery systems must still be operated and maintained at existing facilities until further notice,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “We will, however, use our discretion to not enforce these requirements for any new gas station in the greater Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas because the diminishing benefits do not justify the cost of installing new systems.”
There are also gas stations in the southeast and southwest regions of the state that could become subject to the rules for the first time because of an increase in their business. Krancer explained that DEP will use the same discretion to not enforce the mandate for those stations.
“Gas station owners should note that DEP’s enforcement discretion does not protect an owner or operator from potential legal challenges by third parties,” Krancer said
A notice regarding the issue has been submitted for publication in this week’s Pennsylvania Bulletin.
DEP’s action runs counter to claims made by sponsors of Senate Bill 1386 (Vogel-R-Beaver) signed into law by Gov. Corbett in July.
“The legislation would remove this now redundant and environmentally counterproductive requirement (Stage II) and reduce the financial burden on thousands of motorists and small businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Sen. Elder Vogel in a press release in January.
The bill removed specific statutory language in Section 6.7 of the state Air Pollution Control Act directing DEP to implement the Stage II program.
EPA issued guidance on August 7 that will help DEP determine what, if any, additional requirements Pennsylvania will need to implement in order to repeal the Stage II requirements and revise its State Implementation Plan.

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