Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘vapor recovery’

How environmental regulations can hurt the economy

Posted by sanityinjection on January 30, 2009

Great item in the Pasadena Star-News about the impact of a new environmental regulation set to take effect in California in April. The purpose of the regulation is to cut down on gasoline vapor emissions, certainly a worthy goal. Gasoline pumps all over America already have equipment installed to reduce vapor emissions. California is now taking that process a step further by requiring all gas stations in the state to install a new generation of vapor recovery equipment.

So what’s the problem? The equipment is expensive, and the state is not chipping in anything to pay for it. Which means gas station owners will be forced to pay for it themselves, to the tune of some $35,000 in capital outlay. As a result, about 2.5% of gas stations in California are expected to go out of business rather than comply with the new regs.

You might argue that this is a necessary price to pay for cleaner air. But consider: In California at present, 2,322 tons of gasoline vapor emissions are produced each day. Once these new regulations are in effect and all gas stations have the new equipment, that number will be reduced by a total of – 7 tons. Do the math – that is a reduction of 0.3%! Even if the state of California were willing (or able) to pay for all or part of the cost, that seems like a negligible benefit for the money.

This is a perfect example of how the devil of environmental regulations is often in the details. When you say, “These regulations will make our air cleaner,” it sure sounds like a good idea – who doesn’t want cleaner air. But when you say, “These regulations will make our air only a tiny bit cleaner while driving family-owned gas stations out of business”, suddenly it doesn’t look like such a good idea anymore.

The state of California claims that gas station owners should be able to cover the cost of the new equipment by raising the price of their gas 68 cents per gallon – more for lower-volume sellers. Right, and how is the mom-and-pop operation that raises their prices going to compete with the wholly-owned Mobil or Shell station that can absorb the cost and not pass it on to consumers? Who’s going to pay the extra cost when they can just go to the gas station around the corner?

Again, reducing gasoline vapors is a good thing – they are a major contributor to smog, and we can all agree that smog is bad. But what we see here is a regulation being passed by people who aren’t looking at the whole picture, and believe that any means are justified in achieving the goal of a cleaner environment.

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